U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2022 guide released Sept. 13 ranks La Sierra University 11th out of 122 universities in the western region for social mobility, its ability to help economically disadvantaged students earn a college degree.
La Sierra’s placement, which is tied with San Francisco State University, falls within the “Top Performers on Social Mobility” category, one of nine specialty rankings that fall under the college guide’s primary national and regional lists of top universities and colleges. The university is included in U.S. News’ Regional Universities West category that provides overall rankings for 126 universities in 15 western states. The social mobility category rates universities on their success in enrolling and graduating students who are recipients of federal Pell Grants. The majority of Pell Grant awardees are those whose adjusted gross family incomes are under $50,000.
“At La Sierra University, one of the cornerstones of our institutional mission is to serve others. We fulfill that mission first with our students, in particular those who come from difficult circumstances, and we do everything in our power to help them succeed,” said Director of Student Financial Services Elina Bascom. “A college education can be absolutely life changing for those who come from financially challenged environments, and it gives us joy to watch students overcome obstacles of all sorts to grow and learn and improve their lives beyond what they’d ever imagined.”
During the 2020-21 school year, approximately 54 percent of the university’s undergraduates received Pell Grants. Students’ eligibility for this aid is identified by the government based on the information in the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
Fourth-year strategic communications major Jacob Ochoa stressed the importance of the Pell Grant to fulfilling his academic and life interests, which involve pursuing a career with the United States Air Force or in San Diego law enforcement. “To me, receiving a Pell Grant means more than money sent to my student account. It’s an opportunity for me to achieve my educational and career goals,” he said. “Without a Pell Grant, my tuition then becomes unaffordable. As a first-generation college student, any opportunity or resource given to me has made all the difference. Without the help of FAFSA, scholarships, or grants such as these, a college education would have never been attainable.”
La Sierra’s focus on aiding those in need has also resulted in top national placements with the annual Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education college ranking each year since 2016. That guide is expected to be released later in September.
By Darla Martin Tucker