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Forbes ranks UW-Eau Claire among top universities in the U.S.

| Judy Berthiaume

Photo caption: Forbes has ranked UW-Eau Claire among the top universities in the United States. UW-Eau Claire is the top ranked comprehensive university in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, according to Forbes. Among public universities in Wisconsin and Minnesota, only UW-Madison and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities were ranked higher than UW-Eau Claire. (Photo by Shane Opatz)

Forbes has ranked the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire among the top universities in the United States.

UW-Eau Claire is the top-ranked comprehensive university in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, according to Forbes. Among public universities in Wisconsin and Minnesota, only UW-Madison and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities were ranked higher than UW-Eau Claire.

In its 2021 rankings of America’s Top Colleges, UW-Eau Claire is ranked No. 260 nationally. UW-Eau Claire was ranked No. 122 among all public universities in the U.S., and No. 41 among all public or private universities in the Midwest.

While UW-Eau Claire regularly ranks high in various college rankings, the new Forbes America’s Top Colleges list is especially meaningful because it considers how universities are meeting the needs of low- and moderate-income students, and how well all students do after graduation, says Chancellor James Schmidt.

“The Forbes rankings considers how well Blugolds do after college, but it also looks at who it is that we are educating at UW-Eau Claire,” Schmidt says. “As a university, we are working hard to make our campus more equitable, diverse and inclusive, which includes making it possible for more students from low-income, first-generation and underrepresented populations to access higher education.”

Forbes states that it revamped its rankings’ methodology this year, recognizing that it’s important to evaluate what kind of students the universities educate and whether they make themselves accessible to students who can’t afford high sticker prices. Its new methodology counts low-income student outcomes and uses better data on all student outcomes.

For its rankings, Forbes considers, among other things, average grant aid, average student debt and graduates’ median 10-year salary. Several factors helped Forbes determine those numbers, including things like price-to-earnings, the number of years it took students to pay their college costs, and the number of low-income and Pell students a school enrolls.

Through its analysis, Forbes lists UW-Eau Claire’s average grant aid as $3,909, its average student debt as $7,063 and its graduates’ median 10-year salary as $94,300.

Another data point Forbes considers is the number of graduates of each university who go on to win highly competitive scholarships such as the Fulbright, Truman, Goldwater and Rhodes. UW-Eau Claire students have been awarded all of these prestigious scholarships, with multiple Blugolds being selected every year for some of them, Schmidt says.

“Blugolds receive an exceptional education that prepares them for success after graduation, and it does it without leaving students with massive debt,” Schmidt says. “I’m incredibly proud of our faculty and staff, whose innovative thinking and hard work create extraordinary opportunities for all our students.”

For its 2021 list, Forbes ranked 600 four-year colleges and universities drawn from the nearly 2,700 degree-granting institutions in the United States.

For the first time, a public university, the University of California, Berkeley, is in the No. 1 spot on the Forbes list, and six schools in its top 25 are public universities. The rankings more accurately represent the schools that most colleges students attend in the U.S., Forbes states, noting that nearly 80% of the nation’s 16 million undergraduates attend public schools.

In announcing its America’s Top Colleges list, Forbes says this year’s rankings show that “public universities can deliver the most outstanding education to the broadest range of students at the most affordable price.”

“That is the very heart of UW-Eau Claire’s mission,” Schmidt says of offering a quality education to a diverse group of students at an affordable price. “UW-Eau Claire is what is possible when a public university strategically invests its monies and human resources in building a campus that prioritizes academic excellence, inclusion and affordability.”