It was announced on Monday Sept. 10 that Fairfield University has been ranked as the number one University in Regional Universities North by the “U.S. News & World Report.”
Last year, the University was ranked as number three in the Regional Universities North category. This new ranking ousts the previous number one ranked institution Providence College, a fellow Catholic institution located in Rhode Island.
U.S. News & World Report utilizes a rankings formula which evaluates schools using both quantitative and qualitative measures around “16 measures of academic quality.” Unlike in previous years, this year’s formula did not factor in schools’ acceptance rates.
Providence College has a more selective acceptance rate of 52 percent for the Class of 2021. For the same class year, Fairfield had an acceptance rate of 61 percent. Both Fairfield and Providence received roughly the same amount of total applications with 11,218 and 11,251, respectively.
Another new factor in the ranking formula is Federal Pell Grant graduation rates. A Federal Pell Grant is a type of federal student aid which is awarded exclusively based on financial need. According to the Common Data Set for the 2017-18 school year, of 155 Pell Grant recipients in the fall 2011 cohort, 104 graduated in four years or less. 2011 is the most recent available year on the Common Data Set. In fall 2017, Providence College had 150 Pell Grant recipients in the first-year class.
On the other hand, Fairfield in their 2011 cohort had 167 Pell Grant recipients and 127 graduated in four years or less. Fairfield had a higher rate of Pell Grant recipients graduating in four years or less at 76 percent compared to Providence’s rate of 67 percent.
The removal of acceptance rate and the addition of the Pell Grant graduation rates might explain why Fairfield rose to the number one in the category spot over Providence. Nevertheless, Fairfield students, alumni and faculty are celebrating this most recent national acclaim.