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Chico State

Chico State Named One of Nation’s Best Institutions for Social Mobility

Lights illuminate the exterior of an academic building on a college campus.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

University Advancement staff hold a Holiday Party on Thursday, December 9, 2021 in Chico, Calif. (Stephen Cummins/Chico State)

Prospective college students and their families want assurance their investment in higher education is a worthy one—and confidence that resources are in place to help prepare them for the workforce and other facets beyond school.

As it continues to offer an affordable, exceptional education, Chico State has once again been recognized as one of the nation’s top schools for social mobility.

In its 2021 Social Mobility Index (SMI), CollegeNet ranked national higher education institutions that provide its students with the best opportunity, resources, and support to improve their lives and change the trajectories of their families. Chico State was ranked No. 30 out of more than 1,500 entries—placing the University within the top 2 percent of colleges and universities listed.

Director of the Office of Admissions Serge Desir said that the University actively recruits first-generation college students and Latinx students who historically have been underserved in higher education, and once they are here, efforts to ensure their success are unwavering. From student success programs in every college to work to close equity gaps through the Graduation Initiative 2025, the University has a wealth of initiatives to support students at every turn so they can graduate and enter the workforce or further higher education.

“It’s extremely gratifying to be recognized as a University committed to access and affordability,” Desir said. “We are proud of the work we do to retain and educate our students to provide a world-class education—which, in many cases, leads to a better life for our graduates and their families.”

Data for this year’s SMI listings were collected from the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System. For methodology, CollegeNet considered variables like tuition, economic background, graduation rate, early career salary and endowment to the university.

Just as in years past, the CSU system was well-represented in CollegeNet’s SMI rankings, including second-ranked Cal State LA; No. 3 Cal State Long Beach; No. 5 Fresno State; No. 6 Cal State San Bernardino; No. 7 CSUN; and No. 8 CSU, Dominguez Hills. Other CSUs in the top 20 are Cal Poly Pomona (No. 13); CSU, Channel Islands (No. 15); Cal State Fullerton (No. 19); and CSU, Bakersfield (No. 20).

Overall, CSU campuses occupied 16 of the top 30 spots in the SMI rankings.

The CSU, the nation’s largest university system, remains one of the most affordable when compared to other institutions across the country. CSU tuition and fees for undergraduate education during the 2021–22 academic year averaged $7,439, while the national average is $12,341.

“We believe providing a superb educational experience at a reasonable price that prepares students for great careers is a culmination of our mission as a public institution of higher learning,” Desir said.

Chico State offers a host of support programs to help students along their educational journey, from the WellCat Counseling and Wellness Center, Student Transition and Retention (STAR) Center, and TRIO Student Support Services to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Gender and Sexuality Equity Center (GSEC), and Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Chico State continues to collect accolades related to affordability and value, low student debt and social mobility. Earlier this year, the University climbed in Washington Monthly’s “Best Bang for the Buck” regional rankings and was named in US News & World Report’s regional “Top Performers on Social Mobility.” Additionally, Chico State was recently recognized as a “Best Value” school and a Top 5 school nationally in terms of low student debt.