U.S. News is often asked to collect, analyze, and publish more information about how well colleges and universities are serving their students from different income levels. We recently conducted a first-ever analysis of how successful colleges are at graduating low-income students, based on data exclusively collected by U.S. News. Now, for the first time, we are also able to answer the question of how schools are doing at graduating their students who come from families with the highest incomes relative to the rest of their student body.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act, passed in 2009, requires that schools disclose the graduation rates of students who received a Pell grant (federal aid given to students from low-income families), students who received a subsidized Stafford loan but not a Pell grant, and students who received neither. These three separate graduation rates indicate if a college is successful in serving students from different income levels.
The population of students receiving neither a Pell grant nor a subsidized Stafford loan includes students from families who had incomes that are above the level needed to qualify for those two federal government programs—and therefore are generally not the neediest students on campus. Campus economic diversity and the determination of whether students from families with lower income levels graduate at the same rate as students from families with higher incomes are issues garnering interest throughout the higher education community.
This spring, U.S. News collected these three graduation rate data for the fall 2005 entering class as part of our regular data collection for the 2013 Best Colleges rankings. This information is not currently being collected by the U.S. Department of Education.
The three separate graduation rates were not incorporated into the 2013 Best Colleges rankings methodology. However, in future years we may incorporate them into the rankings model, since this differential graduation rate information is an important outcome measure.
In the analysis below, we have used this data collection to show which schools in the U.S. News National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories are overperformers or underperformers when comparing the six-year graduation rate of their non-Pell grant and non-subsidized Stafford loan students with the six-year rate of their entire graduating class.
Of the 510 ranked schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, 332 submitted information to U.S. News on both the entire fall 2005 student body graduation rate and the graduation rate of non-Pell grant and non-subsidized Stafford loan students for the fall 2005 entering class.
The table below shows the top overperforming schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories, where students without Pell grants or subsidized Stafford loans are graduating at higher rates than the overall student body.
|School name (state)||U.S. News rank & category||6-year graduation rate (overall)||6-year graduation rate (no Pell or subsidized Stafford)||Overperformance|
|Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts||RNP*, National Liberal Arts Colleges||53%||84%||+31|
|Claflin University (SC)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||40%||62%||+22|
|Spelman College (GA)||68, National Liberal Arts Colleges||77%||99%||+22|
|Wisconsin Lutheran College||178, National Liberal Arts Colleges||63%||79%||+16|
|University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||39%||54%||+15|
|College of the Atlantic (ME)||90, National Universities||71%||84%||+13|
|Hanover College (IN)||112, National Liberal Arts Colleges||71%||84%||+13|
|Agnes Scott College (GA)||75, National Universities||65%||77%||+12|
|Wayne State University (MI)||RNP, National Universities||26%||37%||+11|
|Eastern Mennonite University (VA)||175, National Liberal Arts Colleges||66%||76%||+10|
|University of Akron (OH)||RNP, National Universities||38%||48%||+10|
This table lists underperforming schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories, where students without Pell grants or subsidized Stafford loans are graduating at lower rates than the overall student body.
|School name (state)||U.S. News rank & category||6-year graduation rate (overall)||6-year graduation rate (no Pell or subsidized Stafford)||Underperformance|
|Johnson C. Smith University (NC)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||37%||15%||-22|
|Florida Atlantic University||RNP, National Universities||43%||31%||-12|
|Nova Southeastern University (FL)||RNP, National Universities||43%||33%||-10|
|Bennington College (VT)||100, National Liberal Arts Colleges||67%||58%||-9|
|University of Massachusetts--Lowell||170, National Universities||50%||41%||-9|
|Wartburg College (IA)||151, National Liberal Arts Colleges||63%||55%||-8|
|Fisk University (TN)||145, National Liberal Arts Colleges||42%||36%||-6|
|Pace University (NY)||174, National Universities||56%||50%||-6|
|Polytechnic Institute of New York University||139, National Universities||54%||48%||-6|
|Randolph College (VA)||112, National Liberal Arts Colleges||64%||58%||-6|
*RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one fourth of its rankings category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.
The graduation rate data above are correct as of October 25, 2012.