Rowan ranked 3rd in nation for social mobility

Rowan ranked 3rd in nation for social mobility

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For the second straight year, Rowan University has been ranked among the top three schools in the nation for “social mobility,” a benchmark that may be the most important in an annual field of college and university rankings.

CollegeNET, a Portland, Ore. company that develops technologies for colleges, universities and non-profits, compiles the Social Mobility Index (SMI), which began in 2014.

The firm this year ranked Rowan #3 out of 931 schools.

Rowan President Ali Houshmand said the survey reflects some of the University’s core missions – to provide a high quality, affordable education that enables graduates to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

“For society as a whole, this must be the role of public higher education,” Houshmand said. “Our goal is to provide a first quality, affordable education.” 

Houshmand has committed to restricting the rise in undergraduate tuition to, or below, the rate of inflation during his tenure and has done so for five years.

To reach its conclusions, CollegeNET considered five main criteria for each school: tuition, the percentage of low-income students, graduation rate, median salaries within five years of graduating, and the size of each school’s endowment.

Approximately 32.5 percent of Rowan’s undergraduate students receive institutional aid, for a total of $12 million awarded by the University this year. Rowan, one of New Jersey’s two comprehensive public research institutions, has 16,100 students enrolled in its undergraduate and graduate degree programs and its two medical school. 

CollegeNET’s methodology gives greater weight to schools with comparatively low undergraduate tuition costs and to schools with a greater percentage of students whose families earn less than or equal to the national median. It gives negative weight to schools with extremely large endowments.

The company collects salary and other data from such third party sources as PayScale, a compensation data firm, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

This year’s survey ranks Rowan behind only Baruch College in New York and Prairie View A&M University in Texas and ahead of such well-regarded schools as Rutgers University (#123), The College of New Jersey (#170) and the University of Delaware (#728).

Released Oct. 14, the study noted a common sense approach that, its authors believe, sets it apart from other rankings – to identify schools where students may get a good education and earn a valuable degree without assuming a crushing amount of debt.

“The new SMI rankings show that through wise policy-making, colleges and universities can be part of improving both economic opportunity and social stability in our country,” the report noted. “… In the final analysis, graduating into paying jobs evidences economic mobility.”