Information about how colleges and universities are serving their entire student populations is in demand, judging from the requests U.S. News receives for it. In October 2012, we answered the question of how successful schools are at graduating low-income students receiving Pell grants; now, we are able to answer the question of how colleges are doing at graduating students receiving subsidized Stafford loans relative to the rest of their student body.
Schools must disclose the graduation rates of students who received a Pell grant, students who received a subsidized Stafford loan but not a Pell grant and students who received neither under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, passed in 2009. These three separate graduation rates can reveal a college's success in serving students from different economic backgrounds.
In spring 2012, U.S. News collected these six-year graduation rate data for the fall 2005 entering class as part of our regular data collection for the 2013 Best Colleges rankings.
The three separate graduation rates – which are not currently being collected by the U.S. Department of Education – 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 income-based graduation rate information is an important measure of whether schools are able to successfully graduate students from all socioeconomic levels at close to the same rates.
The proportion of students receiving subsidized Stafford loans is also considered an indicator of economic diversity, as students have to qualify for financial aid to receive subsidized Stafford loans.
Subsidized Stafford loans come directly from the federal government, and the total an undergraduate student can borrow is now $23,000. Student loan interest rates and the overall cost of financing college have garnered a lot of attention recently with a recent Congressional deal that tied Stafford student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note.
In the analysis below, we have used the information from our spring 2012 data collection to show which schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories are overperformers or underperformers when comparing the six-year graduation rate of students who started in 2005 and received a subsidized Stafford loan, but no Pell grants, with the six-year rate of their entire 2005 entering class.
Of the 510 ranked schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, 341 submitted information to U.S. News on both the entire student body graduation rate and the graduation rate of students with only subsidized Stafford loans for the fall 2005 entering class. Unranked schools, which do not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
The table below shows the top overperforming schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories, where students with 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 (subsidized Stafford loans)||Overperformance|
|Nova Southeastern University (FL)||RNP*, National Universities||43%||89%||+46|
|Bennington College (VT)||100, National Liberal Arts Colleges||67%||80%||+13|
|Kalamazoo College (MI)||68, National Liberal Arts Colleges||83%||95%||+12|
|University of Massachusetts—Lowell||170, National Universities||50%||59%||+9|
|Virginia Military Institute||70, National Liberal Arts Colleges||69%||78%||+9|
|University of North Carolina—Asheville||156, National Liberal Arts Colleges||61%||70%||+9|
|Randolph College (VA)||112, National Liberal Arts Colleges||64%||72%||+8|
|Claremont McKenna College (CA)||10, National Liberal Arts Colleges||91%||98%||+7|
|Florida State University||97, National Universities||74%||81%||+7|
|Bloomfield College (NJ)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||32%||39%||+7|
|Pitzer College (CA)||43, National Liberal Arts Colleges||81%||87%||+6|
|Johnson C. Smith University (NC)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||37%||43%||+6|
|Colgate University (NY)||18, National Liberal Arts Colleges||92%||98%||+6|
|Hendrix College (AR)||70, National Liberal Arts Colleges||73%||79%||+6|
|St. Mary's College (IN)||87, National Liberal Arts Colleges||79%||85%||+6|
|Simpson University (CA)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||43%||49%||+6|
|Houghton College (NY)||140, National Liberal Arts Colleges||69%||75%||+6|
This table lists underperforming schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories, where students with 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 (subsidized Stafford loans)||Underperformance|
|New College of Florida||87, National Liberal Arts Colleges||68%||38%||-30|
|College of William and Mary (VA)||33, National Universities||91%||62%||-29|
|University of New Orleans||RNP, National Universities||38%||13%||-25|
|California Institute of Technology||10, National Universities||87%||67%||-20|
|University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||39%||21%||-18|
|Sweet Briar College (VA)||100, National Liberal Arts Colleges||70%||52%||-18|
|St. Mary's University of Minnesota||174, National Universities||62%||48%||-14|
|Agnes Scott College (GA)||75, National Liberal Arts Colleges||65%||51%||-14|
|University of Wyoming||156, National Universities||53%||39%||-14|
|University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill||30, National Universities||90%||76%||-14|
|University of Colorado—Denver||189, National Universities||40%||28%||-12|
|Lyon College (AR)||156, National Liberal Arts Colleges||48%||36%||-12|
|University of Arizona||120, National Universities||61%||49%||-12|
|College of Idaho||164, National Liberal Arts Colleges||63%||51%||-12|
|Lynn University (FL)||RNP, National Universities||42%||31%||-11|
|University of Nevada—Reno||189, National Universities||53%||42%||-11|
|University of Louisiana—Lafayette||RNP, National Universities||41%||30%||-11|
|University of Alaska—Fairbanks||RNP, National Universities||31%||20%||-11|
*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 Aug. 8, 2013.