New Jersey City University Ranks #1 in New Jersey and 10th Nationally in Social Mobility Index (SMI)

December 20, 2023
NJCU News 2023_web news

CollegeNet’s 10th Annual SMI Measures Higher Education Institutions’ Ability to Help Solve The Nation’s Social Mobility Problem


JERSEY CITY, N.J. | New Jersey City University  (NJCU) has long been acknowledged as one of the top public colleges for improving students’ upward economic mobility. Now, the institution’s vital work is being recognized as performing better than any college or university in the state and among the best in the nation in this life-changing metric.

NJCU is ranked No. 1 in the state of New Jersey and 10th in the United States in CollegeNET’s 2023 Social Mobility Index (SMI) — a unique and innovative measure that assesses factors such as affordability, graduation rates, and alumni outcomes. 

This ranking represents a steady and strong improvement in NJCU’s ranking on the national index which has improved from 105th place in 2021 and 44th place in 2022, into the Top 10 in 2023.

NJCU Interim President Andrés Acebo celebrated the noteworthy rankings, saying: “We are grateful for this substantial recognition which further demonstrates and affirms the power of NJCU’s distinct and differentiated mission and the indispensable role it serves to the extraordinary community we are privileged to serve. We are proudly linked and tethered to a mission — a mission of economic mobility, of upward social mobility, of taking a socioeconomically diverse population and historically underserved and marginalized community and empowering them. That is what NJCU does every day for our community — and has for nearly a century. There is no denying the power of higher education to change the trajectory of a family, particularly for first generation students; my own life story is a testament to it.” 

Acebo added: “I am pleased that these rankings demonstrate what we at NJCU have always believed — and what we have doubled down on in the last year –  that higher education should be a transformative experience that empowers individuals to overcome barriers, systemic and personal, and realize their promise. This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff, and students, and the significant efforts undertaken over the last year to know and intentionally honor who we are privileged to serve. That has been the truth behind our mission’s extraordinary resilience and it lies in the heart of the unprecedented reforms we have realized in the last year to drive student success and to truly meet our students, their families, and our communities where they are."

The Social Mobility Index (SMI) measures the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students — with family incomes below the national median —  at lower tuition and graduates them into good paying jobs. The development of the SMI has revolutionized the way success is viewed in higher education institutions. 

CollegeNet’s SMI differs from most other rankings in that it focuses directly on the factors that enable economic mobility, rather than arbitrary or irrelevant criteria such as percentage of applicants denied. The institutions that educate more economically disadvantaged people — those with family incomes below the national median — and do so the best at lower tuition so that they graduate into good paying jobs, will rank higher according to the SMI. 

NJCU serves the most socioeconomically diverse student population in the state with a reported median household annual income of the students standing at $42,200 — the lowest of New Jersey’s four-year public colleges by a considerable margin, and 54 percent of the university’s students are first generation college students. However, 10 years after graduation, students earn 22% more than the national average income.

NJCU’s nearly century-long commitment to providing a socioeconomically diverse population with access to an excellent education as a catalyst to social mobility has been a long-time tenet of its mission and its vital role in the State of New Jersey. 

The university continues to rollout programs that remove barriers and pave the way for its students, including the most significant overhaul of its general education curriculum in decades to eliminate the burdens of excess credit accumulation, and the development of the university’s first academic master plan, which places a return on students’ and their families’ investment in higher education as a cornerstone of NJCU’s academic enterprise.

Notably, last week President Acebo signed a transfer agreement with Hudson County Community College (HCCC) to launch the HCCC|NJCU CONNECT program which allows HCCC students who meet certain criteria to seamlessly transfer to NJCU to attain their bachelor’s degree. 

By offering a range of financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, NJCU ensures that students have access to the resources they need to succeed academically and professionally. Through rigorous academic programs, experiential learning opportunities, and career development initiatives, NJCU equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in today's competitive job market in preparation for successful careers.

The university will continue cementing its mission in its community by prioritizing social mobility and investing in programs and initiatives that support student success, thus paving the way for a brighter future for its students and the communities it serves.

CollegeNET Inc, is a privately held company that provides web-based technological solutions for higher education institutions. Their mission to support social mobility in higher education has resulted in millions of dollars worth of college scholarships and financial support that impacts campuses directly. 

Full rankings of CollegeNet’s 2023 SMI are available at

About NJCU: 
New Jersey City University is a comprehensive public regional institution of higher learning located in Jersey City, N.J., dedicated to the development of our students, our city, our communities, and our state. We are a game-changing force for our students and have been recognized as one of the top colleges in the nation improving their upward economic mobility. In fact, NJCU has been ranked No. 1 in New Jersey and Top 10 in the nation in the CollegeNET Social Mobility Index for 2023. Whether enrolled in one of our undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs at our three locations, NJCU students have access to an affordable, diverse environment, and an exceptionally supportive faculty. This prepares them to go on to become the next generation of workers and leaders who improve their communities and the State of New Jersey.

Ira Thor, Associate Vice President for University Communications | | 201-200-3301