Top college rankings list revamps criteria to prioritize economic diversity
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The top U.S. college rankings list is revamping its criteria to prioritize economic diversity following a report last year that found it was favoring schools that enroll fewer low-income students.

The widely-read U.S. News & World Report on Monday released its 2019 rankings, debuting a new formula that rewards schools that have high levels of social mobility, meaning they graduate and enroll significant numbers of low-income students, Politico reported

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While the list continues to rank Ivy League and other elite colleges as the top five in the country, schools from the California university system were boosted "partly due to the universities’ performance graduating high proportions of low-income students," Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News & World Report, told Politico. 

The report ranked Princeton and Harvard universities as the top two schools in the country, continuing a longtime trend. 

Morse told Politico that 13 percent of a school's rank this year depends on its economic diversity, a significant uptick from previous years. 

Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Chicago and Yale University all tied for third place this year, maintaining their places in the top five. 

Five University of California schools reached the top 10 of top public schools among national universities, with Santa Barbara moving up three spots to a tie at No. 5 and Irvine rising from No. 9 to No. 7, according to a press release from the outlet

The list of the top five liberal arts colleges, which includes Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin, Swarthmore and Wellesley, was the same compared to last year. 

The college rankings list also no longer considers acceptance rates in its formula, an indicator studies found weighed the process too heavily in favor of elite colleges.

"A university is not successful if it does not graduate its students, which is why the Best Colleges rankings place the greatest value on outcomes, including graduation and retention rates," Morse said in the press release. "By including social mobility indicators, U.S. News is further recognizing colleges that serve all of their students, regardless of economic status."

Last year, a Politico report found that U.S. News college rankings promoted economic inequality on university campuses by incentivizing the enrollment of wealthy students above those from low-income backgrounds. 

Colleges often pursue high rankings in the U.S. News & World Report because an institution's standing on the list can help boost funding, donations, enrollment and quality of education.