Going to college wasn’t a realistic goal for Jordan Cordova whose parents weren’t around when he was growing up. But in high school, the Clovis resident learned about Fresno State and the quality education he could get at a university close to home.

Cordova, who was raised by his grandparents, worked hard to get high grades at Clovis High School then applied to Fresno State and the University’s general scholarship fund with the hope of getting some financial help.

Two years ago, Cordova received the Verna Mae Brooks Scholarship covering all four years of his undergraduate education with a monthly stipend.

“Not in a million years would I have thought I’d be blessed to be able to have a scholarship like this, where I don’t have to worry about a single bit of college,” said Cordova, now a junior majoring in criminology. “I just have to worry about coming and maintaining my grade point average at the level that they require.”

Fresno State awarded more than $250 million in financial aid to students in need during the 2018-19 academic year. Of that amount, 75% were grants or scholarships. Eighty percent of all students received some form of financial aid.

Affordability, including tuition and how much a university gives in financial awards, is one of three factors used by Money Magazine to measure the nation’s top performing schools. Combined with quality of education and outcomes, Fresno State once again showed that it is among the best ranking No. 35 among 744 four-year colleges analyzed in the magazine’s Best Public College rankings for 2019, up from No. 41 last year. This is the fourth time it has ranked in the magazine’s annual list of the top colleges in the country.

Fresno State also ranked No. 11 for most transformative college described by Money Magazine as a school “where students beat the odds by doing better than would be expected from their academic and economic backgrounds.”

“We take great pride in providing our talented students with a high quality and affordable education that leads to life-changing success for them and their families,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. “In a region with a shortage of college degrees, Fresno State is a leader in developing a new generation of bold leaders without burdening them with significant debt.”

Designed to help families look at the costs and payoffs of any university they consider, the magazine developed a practical analysis of the nation’s best-performing colleges. Data collection and the analysis were led by American Institutes for Research. The MONEY editorial staff makes the final ranking decisions.

Fresno State was one of 12 California State University campuses included in the top 50 along with Long Beach, Fullerton, Northridge, Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona, Chico, Monterey Bay, Stanislaus, San Bernardino, San Diego State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Fresno State remains one of the most affordable campuses in the California State University system when it comes to tuition and fees. In fact, Fresno State has the lowest campus mandatory fees in the CSU system, including fees for health services and instructionally-related activities, among others.

The average student loan debt is about $18,000, well below the national average of $27,293 for a four-year public institution. According to the latest figures available in 2017, about 53% of bachelors’ recipients at Fresno State graduated with zero student debt.