Two national surveys place Florida International University (FIU) among the top schools in the country in their latest annual rankings for excellence and economic return on graduates’ investment in a college degree. FIU joins leading institutions such as Princeton, Stanford and MIT at the top of both rankings.
“This is the essence of real impact,” said FIU Board of Trustees Chairperson Dean C. Colson. “We’re redefining what it means to be a successful 21st-century university. It’s excellence in academics, research and student success. If you focus on these three things – all of them, not just some of them – everyone around you thrives. In the case of FIU, it’s our students, our community and our state that has benefited.”
‘America needs a different definition of higher education excellence’
Washington Monthly’s college guide places FIU No. 32 nationally in their annual survey, which looks at a college’s or university’s contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research and providing opportunities for public service. In releasing the rankings, Washington Monthly’s Kevin Carey writes, “America needs a different definition of higher education excellence…One that measures what colleges do for their country, instead of for themselves.”
The publication singled out FIU as one of the universities that have hit the sweet spot of academic excellence and student success without leaving anyone behind, despite being founded “in the second half of the 20th century, not the first half of the 17th.” Carey writes, “We rank FIU at number 32 because, in addition to solid contributions in service and research, it is very affordable and helps a large number of students eligible for Pell Grants start their lives and careers with a high-quality degree.”
Half of FIU’s student body is Pell Grant eligible, signifying students with the greatest economic need. At FIU, Pell Grant-eligible students graduate at a higher rate than non-Pell Grant students, placing the university among the top five public institutions in the country in social mobility.
The news comes shortly after a different ranking named FIU top 25 nationally in the economic return of graduates’ investment in a college degree.
The analysis, conducted by Degree Choices and first published in Forbes magazine, focuses on what they call the “payback number” – the number of years it takes a student to pay back their educational investment with new earnings. The study’s authors found it takes FIU graduates 13 months to “pay back” what they paid for their education. Pay back is calculated by dividing how much money a student pays out-of-pocket to attend a given institution by the average salary boost they receive.
The same survey found that FIU graduates earn nearly $10,000 more than their peers in the state, on average.
“Their methodology confirms what we knew, that an FIU degree retains its value,” said FIU Interim President Kenneth A. Jessell.
Both surveys used publicly available data rather than opinion in calculating their rankings. The methodology for Washington Monthly can be found here and the methodology for Degree Choices can be found here.
“We know that most of our nearly 300,000 graduates stay in Florida after they graduate,” said Jessell. “As reflected in these rankings, FIU is able to provide our students with an outstanding education at a very affordable price. This means that the majority of our students graduate with little or no debt and therefore can ignite new industries, businesses and economic development across the state at a faster rate than graduates of other universities.”
‘We’ve become one of the most innovative public universities in the country’
The two rankings are good news for FIU’s 56,000 students, who comprise one of the largest student enrollments in the country. The nation’s largest producer of minority degrees, FIU ranks among the top 3 percent of the nation’s 4,300 colleges and universities in research production with $250 million in research expenditures annually.
“We deliver a first-rate education and a highly respected degree at a remarkable value, delivering on the promise of higher education,” said Interim Provost, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth M. Béjar. “By looking to the future with the same passion, commitment and foresight as our university founders, we have become one of the most innovative public universities in the country and a leader in 21st century higher education.”