Our “affordable elite” ranking consists of the 208 four-year universities included in our main rankings (see page 105 for general inclusion criteria) that were in the highest selectivity categories in Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges. This includes the very competitive+, highly competitive, highly competitive+, and most competitive categories. We used the following six measures of social mobility to create the ranking: Pell versus non-Pell graduation rate gap; number of Pell recipients earning bachelor’s degrees; percent of first-generation college students; gap between actual earnings ten years after college entry and predicted earnings based on student characteristics, mix of majors, and local living costs; net price of attendance for families with incomes below $75,000; and percentage of students repaying at least $1 in federal student loans five years after leaving college.
Each of the measures was given equal weight in the ranking, and we standardized the measures in the same way as the main rankings to reduce the influence of outliers. We show the top fifty colleges here, and the rest are available online. —Eds.