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US News & World Report Ranks FinnU #12 for Social Mobility

September 16, 2020

Finlandia Resident Assistants outside of FinnHall | August 2020

Finlandia University has been ranked by US News & World Report as a top university for Social Mobility. Finlandia came in at #12 on the list of universities in the Midwest region.

According to the US News & World Report, economically disadvantaged students are less likely than others to finish college, even when controlling for other characteristics. But some colleges are more successful than others at advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants. The vast majority of these federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are under $50,000.

Finlandia’s Pell eligible student population sits at just over 50 percent. Over the past several years, Finlandia has aggressively worked to make private higher education affordable for all students. In 2020, it introduced two new need-based scholarships; the Rise Together Scholarship provides free full tuition for TIP and Pell eligible students, and the Western Great Lakes Scholarship provides up to $4,000 for new incoming students.

More importantly, a number of university scholarships can be stacked on top of each other to provide even more savings for students. 100 percent of full-time domestic students receive financial aid, meaning the sticker price is very rarely the final price for students.

“Finlandia has long prided itself on the educational attainment of low income and first generation college students by providing academic and social support, scholarships, such as the Rise Together Scholarship, and networking opportunities for students who may fall through the cracks at a larger school,” said Dean of Students Erin Barnett.

In addition to the scholarships, FinnU also offers a number of support services that help students persist to graduation. The TRIO Student Support Services Grant (TRIO SSS) at FinnU, which was just renewed for another five years, helps 180 students annually who are low income, first generation – those whose parents do not have a four-year college degree – or students with disabilities. The array of services the grant will provide are comprehensive and will include academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, help in choosing courses, and other forms of assistance.

“I am really excited to be recognized by the highly regarded US News and World Report college rankings as a institution successful in positively impacting the social mobility of our students,” said TRIO SSS Director Cindy Cowell. “Recently, I was asked about first generation learners and remarked that FinnU has intentionally been supporting first generation learners for over 30 years. First gen seems to be a buzz word in higher education in recent history as the numbers of high school graduates shrinks, but Finlandia University has a long history of providing academic supports to sometimes disenfranchised populations, and the recognition in this year’s college rankings illustrates the success in this intentional model of academic support.”

Barnett also pointed out that Finlandia established the first Tri-Alpha honor society, honoring first generation college students, in the state of Michigan. The Lions Den initiative through athletics also offers support for FinnU student athletes, many of whom are first-generation and/or Pell eligible, that encompasses the whole student throughout their collegiate career. In addition, Finlandia’s small student-to-faculty ratio enables students to receive individual attention not available at larger universities.

US News & World Report social mobility Methodology

This indicator measures how well schools graduated students who received federal Pell Grants. Students receiving these grants typically come from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually, though most Pell Grant money goes to students with a total family income below $20,000. For the second consecutive year, U.S. News published a distinct social mobility ranking for all ranked schools. The social mobility ranking was computed by aggregating the two ranking factors assessing graduation rates of Pell-awarded students.

  • Pell Grant graduation rates incorporate six-year graduation rates of Pell Grant students, adjusted to give much more credit to schools with larger Pell student proportions. This is computed as a two-year rolling average.
  • Pell Grant graduation rate performance compares each school’s six-year graduation rate among Pell recipients with its six-year graduation rate among non-Pell recipients by dividing the former into the latter, then adjusting to give much more credit to schools with larger Pell student proportions. The higher a school’s Pell graduation rate relative to its non-Pell graduation rate up to the rates being equal, the better it scores. This, too, is computed as a two-year rolling average.

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