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UC system offers the best value, says Forbes

UCLA royce hall with students

Credit: University of California

Students pass in front of UCLA's Royce Hall. UCLA provides the country's best value on college education, according to Forbes' 300 Best Value Colleges 2018 list.

Forbes 2018 Best Value Colleges

Campus Rank
UCLA No. 1
UC Berkeley No. 2
UC Irvine No. 9
UC San Diego No. 9
UC Santa Barbara No. 11
UC Davis No. 13
UC Riverside No. 64
UC Santa Cruz No. 77

University of California students receive the best deals on college education in the country, according to Forbes' newly released 2018 rankings.

The 300 Best Value Colleges list, which encompasses public and private schools, features eight UC campuses. UCLA and UC Berkeley ranked first and second, with UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis included among the top 15 best value colleges.

Five UC campuses ranked higher this year than last. UC Irvine, which ranked 4th overall, moved up four spots from last year. UC Santa Barbara rose by 11 places, UC Santa Cruz by 20 and UC Riverside moved up 43 spots.

The Forbes rankings are designed “to help students decide whether their college investments are likely to reward them with a healthy return,” the magazine wrote in its methodology press release. To that end, the rankings evaluated alumni earnings, net price, net debt, school quality, timely graduation and the number of Pell Grant recipients. Of the top three colleges, UC Berkeley and UCLA had the highest average mid-career earnings, at $130,100 and $114,800 respectively.

650 schools in total were considered for inclusion on the list.

In addition to value, Forbes also identified the 10 schools that had the most success with upward mobility, defined as the percentage of students from the bottom 20 percent of income distribution who joined the top 20 percent of earners. Of these 10, UC Irvine (average mid-career salary of $118,800) and UCLA (average mid-career salary of $114,800) ranked second and third.

The Forbes list, published before the May 1 decision deadline for most students across the country, follows upon several other lists that emphasize UC’s value and academic excellence, including U.S. News and World Report's “America’s Best Colleges,” Times Higher Education's international ranking and The New York Times College Access Index.