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U.Va. maintains spot as No. 2 public university

University ties with UCLA in national unversity, public university rankings

For the 11th year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University as the No. 2 public university in the nation. This year, the University is tied for the spot with the University of California, Los Angeles.

The University received the No. 23 ranking overall, continuing a long tradition of ranking in the top 25 of national universities.

“The University thinks that the rankings from U.S. News, the Princeton Review, Forbes and other sources are a good resource,” University spokesperson McGregor McCance said. “[We hope these rankings] will continue to raise awareness of the quality of U.Va. and give students a reason to look at U.Va.”

The ranking system is based on a host of quantitative measurements.

“The formula uses quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, and it’s based on our researched view of what matters in education,” the U.S. News website reads.

The University ranks relatively high in terms of reputation and perception among high school guidance counselors.

Factors in the rankings include student-teacher ratio, freshmen retention rate and four-year graduation rate. The rankings only gauge undergraduate programs in non-professional schools.

The undergraduate Commerce and Engineering School programs were also ranked, earning the No. 6 and No. 31 spots, respectively.

Despite the high overall ranking, the University ranks only 59th in terms of financial resources. McCance said this was because of trends in state legislature support.

“Generally speaking, the financial resources measure is a reference to the level of support received from the state,” he said. “Public universities in Virginia are having less financial resources coming to them from the state.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently told state universities to cut their 2014-15 budgets by five percent because of an unexpected budget shortfall, and told universities to expect to cut seven percent next year.

U.S. News also reported the economic diversity of the top 25 ranked schools based on the percent of undergraduates who received Pell Grants through financial aid, examining the population of students from low-income families at each school.

University of California, Los Angeles topped all other universities in the top 25 with 39 percent of undergraduates obtaining Pell Grants.

“Economic diversity has received growing attention in higher education, particularly at elite top-ranked schools that haven’t traditionally enrolled large numbers of low-income students or students from low-income families,” the U.S. News website reads.

University Dean of Admission Greg Roberts said the University’s commitment to diversity and need-based financial aid is extremely important to prospective students and families.

“The size and composition of the aid awards play significant roles in student decisions on college,” Roberts said. “The support the University provides low-income and first-generation college and minority students is also critical to students considering where to apply and enroll.”

Only 13 percent of undergraduates at the University receive Pell Grants through financial aid. The recent change in the University’s need-based financial aid program, AccessUVa, may affect the percentage reported in future surveys with the elimination of all grant-based aid packages previously available to students in the lowest income bracket.

UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said socioeconomic diversity plays an important role in the university’s community. He said the department of undergraduate admissions strives to admit students based on merit, working to overcome financial barriers.

“As a public institution, part of UCLA’s mission is to enroll well-qualified students regardless of their income,” Vazquez said. “We value diversity in all its forms, including the socioeconomic diversity that large numbers of [Pell Grant recipients] bring to campus. By enrolling large numbers of low-income and first-generation college students, UCLA and its sister campuses in the UC system remain primary engines of social mobility in California.”

The information used to develop U.S. News rankings comes mostly from the colleges and universities themselves. U.S. News reached out to 1,365 schools, achieving a 91.5 percent response rate.