How to Use This Directory

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Two key numbers that applicants should consider are a school's freshman retention rate and its graduation rate. The average freshman retention rate shown tells you the average proportion of the freshmen who started in 2003 through 2006 who returned the following fall. The graduation rates show the proportion starting college in 2001who earned a degree in four years and in five years. We also show the average proportion of graduates who earned a degree in six years or less for classes starting in 1998 through 2001. You can see which degrees or certificates (and how many) were awarded between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007. And you can see the proportion of students who pursue further study immediately upon graduation, within one year, and within five years. Additionally, there is a breakdown of the proportion of graduates who pursue further study in business, law, medicine, dentistry, engineering, theology (or the seminary), education, arts and sciences, and veterinary medicine.

Academics Degrees offered are noted, and you can see lists both of the five most popular majors among 2007 graduates (with the percentage of students who majored in them) and of all majors offered that lead to a degree. Majors are arranged by category and listed alphabetically within categories. The availability of other types of academic programs, including preprofessional, teaching certification and cooperative education programs, ROTC, learning communities, and study abroad, are also noted. If there are specific courses required for graduation, they'll appear here.

Tuition and Financial Aid One statistic you will surely want to know is the sticker price: tuition, room, board, and required fees. We provide figures for the 2008-2009 academic year. For public schools, we list both in-state and out-of-state tuition. If data for the 2008-2009 academic year are not available, we provide figures for 2007-2008 or, in some cases, the school's estimate for 2008-2009. We also provide estimates of the cost of books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses.

Anyone planning to apply for financial aid for the fall of 2009 will find a rundown of the necessary forms and deadlines. Which types of need-based scholarships and grants are available to students? What are the criteria used in awarding institutional need-based aid? What criteria are used in awarding institutional nonneed-based aid? What loan programs are available? What tuition payment plans are available to undergraduates?

The data on financial aid packages given out to undergraduates during the 2007-2008 school year include the percentage of undergraduates who applied for aid, the percentage determined by the school to have financial need, and what percentage had their need fully met by an aid package that excluded parent or other private loans. In addition, we give the average financial aid package (including grants, loans, and jobs) and the proportion of students receiving a package, the average amount of gift aid (scholarships or grants) and the proportion receiving such aid, the average amount of self-help aid (work study or loans) and the proportion receiving such aid, and the average need-based student loan. Among students who received need-based aid, what percentage of their need was met, on average? We also include information on merit awards and the average debt burden of 2007 graduates with debt.

Rank A school's rank indicates where it sits among its peers in the 2009 ranking of colleges and universities published by U.S. News in its annual guide, "America's Best Colleges." You'll see a description that indicates which category of institution the school falls into, followed by its rank within the group. The categories: National University, Liberal Arts College, University-Master's, and Baccalaureate College. The master's and baccalaureate schools further subdivide by location: North, South, West, and Midwest. Colleges and universities at the top half of their categories are ranked numerically. Others are placed in either the third or fourth tier. You cannot compare the ranks of institutions in different categories, since schools are compared only with their peers. Schools that specialize in business, engineering, and art, as well as international schools, are labeled as such but are not ranked. In addition, schools with fewer than 200 students; schools with a high percentage of older, part-time students; those institutions that have indicated that they don't use the SAT or ACT in admission decisions for first-time, first-year, degree-seeking applicants; and some schools that did not receive enough responses on the peer assessment survey to allow us to use their peer score as part of the overall ranking are not ranked.