UC Berkeley ranks #1 America’s Best College of 2021

Bay Area

BERKELEY, CA – APRIL 17: UC Berkeley students walk through Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus April 17, 2007 in Berkeley, California. Robert Dynes, President of the University of California, said the University of California campuses across the state will reevaluate security and safety policies in the wake of the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead, including the gunman, 23 year-old student Cho Seung-Hui. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — UC Berkeley has earned the top spot in the “America’s Best Colleges 2021” ranking by Forbes, becoming the first public school to take #1.

Stanford came in at #4.

The honor comes after Forbes made an adjustment to how they rank colleges. This time around, the media company said it started giving extra points to colleges with a more diverse range of students. The more accessible the college is to low-income students, the better.

Forbes said 27% of Berkeley’s undergraduate students receive federal Pell Grants, an aid meant for low-income to moderate-income students. This is more than double Harvard’s percentage of Pell Grant recipients at 12%.

The company also changed up how it verifies post-grad earnings, using data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard — a larger, more representative dataset.

According to Forbes, their low-income students earn enough to pay back college costs within a year, on average. Berkeley students from higher economic backgrounds will take about 1.45 years to earn back their college costs.

Even without the additional aid, Forbes said an education at Berkeley comes at a comparatively reasonable cost. In-state undergraduates pay a little over $14,000 per year, while out-of-state students pay $29,000 more per year.

In addition, Forbes emphasizes Berkeley’s “world-class academics, great sports, a stunning Bay Area setting, reasonable costs and a storied history.”

Berkeley is just one part of the University of California’s greater educational system that is highly regarded. Three other UC campuses made the top 25: UCLA (#8), UC San Diego (#15), and UC Davis (#20).

Most recent data shows that UC Berkeley enrolled over 31,000 undergraduate students with a 16% acceptance rate. See the full methodology here.

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