St. Francis College Recognized For Excellence in Student Opportunity and Success
Leah Schmerl


Confirming its success in providing opportunities to students historically underserved by higher education, the non-profit Strive for College has recognized St. Francis College for excellence in inclusion, diversity, affordability and outcomes.

As part of its "Strive Five" distinctions, Strive for College measures colleges' performance in five key areas that demonstrate a tangible commitment to students who are traditionally underrepresented. St. Francis College exceeds benchmarks in four of those categories:

  • Inclusion - greater than 25 percent of undergraduates receive Pell Grants, meaning at least one in four students come from a low-income family. Nationally, 32 percent of undergraduates receive Pell Grants across all postsecondary institutions. Forty-seven percent of St. Francis College students receive federal grants including Pell Grants.*

  • Diversity - greater than 40 percent of undergraduates are Black, Latino, or Native American. Forty percent approximates the national average of undergraduates from underrepresented groups across all postsecondary institutions. Fifty-three percent of St. Francis College students identify themselves as Black, Hispanic or American Indian or Alaskan Native.*

  • Affordability - Colleges with a net price of less than $13,500 for low-income students, approximately the national average net price for students from households with incomes between $0 and $30,000 who received Title IV federal financial aid across all four-year institutions. Ninety-eight percent of St. Francis College students receive institutional aid averaging nearly $13,000 per student, significantly offsetting tuition costs of approximately $26,500. *

  • Outcomes - greater than 25 percent of graduates who were from the bottom fifth of incomes as students and moved to the top fifth as adults, meaning they have among the highest percentage of students who both came from a lower-income family and ended up a higher-income adult. Forty-nine percent of SFC graduates were in the bottom fifth of income earners as students and moved to the top fifth as adults.**

"St. Francis College has a long, proud tradition of championing diversity and inclusivity, and this recognition from Strive for College affirms our success in these areas," said Robert Oliva, assistant vice president for enrollment management at St. Francis College. "Consistent with our Franciscan heritage is our commitment to opening doors of opportunity to all students, including those who are first in their families to attend college and those with limited financial resources. We're grateful to work with Strive for College to advance these values throughout higher education."

In September 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked SFC third in its category on the publication's annual list of college's that are "Top Performers for Social Mobility," recognizing the College's effectiveness in enrolling and graduating large proportions of economically disadvantaged students.

"The recognition by Strive for Five and Michael J. Carter's vision, with the support of its esteemed sponsors, will serve to inspire faculty, staff, alumni and students to do even more," said Jeffey Emil Diaz, interim chief of diversity, equity & inclusion at St. Francis College. "Diversity and inclusivity at St. Francis College enriches our students both inside and outside of the classroom. Our students will be better prepared for a world that recognizes that inclusion leads to better outcomes in academia, society, business and for people. We are most grateful for this acknowledgement."

About Strive for College

Strive for College was founded in 2007 by Michael J. Carter, then a student at Washington University in St. Louis, to help acutely underserved area high school students apply to college and navigate financial aid. College students volunteered as in-person mentors for high school students, and mentored students achieved substantially better college go-on rates than their non-mentored peers. Strive for College grew to become a respected college access organization doing in-person mentoring across the country. Delivering its mentoring service at sufficient scale to make a meaningful impact on the national college access problem soon became Strive's biggest challenge, which led to the development and launch of UStrive in 2014 to connect aspiring college students with free one-on-one online mentoring through the entire college admissions and financial aid application process.

After merging with the Center for Student Opportunity in 2016, Strive for College now runs ImFirst.org and publishes the I'm First! Guide to College in support of first-generation college students, and partners with colleges and universities to promote and strengthen their efforts on behalf of these students.

Strive for College counts Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, American Express, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, UPS, and The Common Application among its major funders and partners. Strive and their founder Michael J. Carter have been featured by CNN Heroes and Forbes 30 Under 30 and received major national media attention from outlets including Time, National Journal, and Fast Company. Learn more at www.striveforcollege.org.

*Based on data from2020.

**Based on data from Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility (July 2017) by Raj Chetty, Stanford University, John N. Friedman, Brown University, Emmanuel Saez, UC-Berkeley, Nicholas Turner, US Treasury and Danny Yagan, UC-Berkeley. The New York Times published a summary of data on St. Francis College.