Updated 12/18/13: This post has been updated to move Rice University into the top performers category, after the school notified U.S. News that it incorrectly reported its graduation rate of students who received a Pell Grant.
U.S. News is publishing an exclusive analysis of how well colleges and universities are succeeding at graduating low-income students compared with the graduation rate of the overall student body.
Measuring the success of students with Pell Grants, federal aid to students from low-income families, is one key goal of the president's proposed college rating plan. The plan will use measures such as graduation rates and the number of students receiving Pell Grants to identify "colleges that do the most to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as colleges that are improving their performance," according to a release.
This listing, based on data that only U.S. News has collected, offers a preview of some of the outcomes that those developing the federal college rating plan need to consider.
The Pell Grant program most often serves undergraduates with family incomes of less than $20,000. 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 of 2009.
These three separate graduation rates indicate if a college is successful in serving students from different income levels.
U.S. News collected these income-based graduation rate data for the fall 2006 entering class as part of our data collection for the 2014 Best Colleges rankings. This information, which U.S. News has collected since 2012 as part of its spring survey of colleges and universities, is not currently being collected by the U.S. Department of Education, so it is unlikely that those developing the federal college rating plan will be able to measure Pell Grant graduation rates separately.
The three separate graduation rates are not part of the 2014 Best Colleges rankings methodology, but this important outcome measure may be incorporated into the rankings model in future years.
In the analysis below, we have used this data to show which schools in the U.S. News National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings categories are top performers, overperformers and underperformers when comparing the six-year graduation rate of their Pell Grant students with the six-year rate of the entire graduating class.
U.S. News has defined top-performing schools for this list as those with overall six-year graduation rates of 70 percent or higher and where Pell Grant students graduate at the same rate as the overall student body, plus or minus 1 percentage point. In other words, all the students at these schools – no matter their income level – are graduating at the same high level.
Those developing the federal college ratings will have to determine what methodology and benchmarks they will use to determine which colleges are overperforming and underperforming for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Of the 510 ranked schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, 317 submitted information to U.S. News on both the entire fall 2006 student body graduation rate and the graduation rate of Pell Grant students for the fall 2006 entering class.
A number of schools ranked in the top 10 of their categories didn't give U.S. News their income-based graduation rate data: Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Chicago, Duke University, Dartmouth College, Williams College, Pomona College and Davidson College.
The table below shows the top performing schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings categories, where Pell Grant students are graduating at close to the same, high graduation rates as the overall student body.
|College name (state)||Rank and category||6-year overall graduation rate||6-year Pell Grant graduation rate||Difference|
|Amherst College (MA)||2, National Liberal Arts Colleges||95||94||-1|
|Beloit College (WI)||59, National Liberal Arts Colleges||78||77||-1|
|Bowdoin College (ME)||4, National Liberal Arts Colleges||95||94||-1|
|Brown University (RI)||14, National Universities||95||96||1|
|Carnegie Mellon University (PA)||23, National Universities||87||86||-1|
|Clark University (MA)||75, National Universities||80||79||-1|
|Clarkson University (NY)||121, National Universities||71||70||-1|
|Franklin and Marshall College (PA)||45, National Liberal Arts Colleges||83||83||0|
|Lehigh University (PA)||41, National Universities||88||88||0|
|Lewis & Clark College (OR)||74, National Liberal Arts Colleges||76||75||-1|
|Loyola University Chicago||101, National Universities||70||71||1|
|Macalester College (MN)||24, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||90||0|
|McDaniel College (MD)||126, National Liberal Arts Colleges||74||75||1|
|Northeastern University (MA)||49, National Universities||79||80||1|
|Northwestern University (IL)||12, National Universities||93||93||0|
|Rice University (TX)||18, National Universities||92||91||-1|
|St. Lawrence University (NY)||56, National Liberal Arts Colleges||80||79||-1|
|Stonehill College (MA)||115, National Liberal Arts Colleges||80||80||0|
|Transylvania University (KY)||76, National Liberal Arts Colleges||74||75||1|
|Trinity College (CT)||36, National Liberal Arts Colleges||83||82||-1|
|Union College (NY)||41, National Liberal Arts Colleges||83||83||0|
|University of California—Irvine||49, National Universities||86||85||-1|
|University of California—Santa Cruz||86, National Universities||77||77||0|
|Washington and Lee University (VA)||14, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||90||0|
This table shows which National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges are graduating Pell Grant students at higher rates than the overall student body, and are thus overperforming.
|College name (state)||Rank and category||6-year overall graduation rate||6-year Pell Grant graduation rate||Overperformance|
|South Carolina State University||RNP*, National Universities||34||61||27|
|Ave Maria University (FL)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||60||71||11|
|St. Michael's College (VT)||89, National Liberal Arts Colleges||82||92||10|
|Occidental College (CA)||41, National Liberal Arts Colleges||84||93||9|
|Harvey Mudd College (CA)||16, National Liberal Arts Colleges||88||96||8|
|Willamette University (OR)||61, National Liberal Arts Colleges||77||85||8|
|Mount Holyoke College (MA)||38, National Liberal Arts Colleges||81||88||7|
|Connecticut College||45, National Liberal Arts Colleges||85||91||6|
|Dickinson College (PA)||45, National Liberal Arts Colleges||85||91||6|
|Polytechnic Institute of New York University||128, National Universities||62||68||6|
|University of San Francisco||117, National Universities||67||73||6|
|Wellesley College (MA)||7, National Liberal Arts Colleges||92||98||6|
|Claremont McKenna College (CA)||9, National Liberal Arts Colleges||92||97||5|
|Colgate University (NY)||20, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||95||5|
|Colorado College||31, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||95||5|
|Warren Wilson College (NC)||167, National Liberal Arts Colleges||57||62||5|
|Bryn Mawr College (PA)||30, National Liberal Arts Colleges||82||86||4|
|Lake Forest College (IL)||110, National Liberal Arts Colleges||70||74||4|
|Oberlin College (OH)||25, National Liberal Arts Colleges||85||89||4|
|Oglethorpe University (GA)||165, National Liberal Arts Colleges||55||59||4|
|SUNY College—Old Westbury||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||35||39||4|
|Wofford College (SC)||65, National Liberal Arts Colleges||84||88||4|
|College of the Atlantic (ME)||93, National Liberal Arts Colleges||64||67||3|
|Pepperdine University (CA)||57, National Universities||81||84||3|
|Skidmore College (NY)||45, National Liberal Arts Colleges||88||91||3|
|Smith College (MA)||20, National Liberal Arts Colleges||85||88||3|
|Stony Brook University-SUNY||82, National Universities||70||73||3|
|Swarthmore College (PA)||3, National Liberal Arts Colleges||92||95||3|
|University of La Verne (CA)||161, National Universities||59||62||3|
This table shows which National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges graduate Pell Grant students at lower rates than the overall student body, and are thus underperforming.
|College name (state)||Rank and category||6-year overall graduation rate||6-year Pell Grant graduation rate||Underperformance|
|Auburn University (AL)||91, National Universities||68||47||-21|
|Lyon College (AR)||167, National Liberal Arts Colleges||49||28||-21|
|Hendrix College (AR)||82, National Liberal Arts Colleges||72||52||-20|
|Eastern Mennonite University (VA)||180, National Liberal Arts Colleges||59||40||-19|
|Georgetown College (KY)||146, National Liberal Arts Colleges||60||42||-18|
|Salem College (NC)||156, National Liberal Arts Colleges||62||44||-18|
|William Jewell College (MO)||146, National Liberal Arts Colleges||69||51||-18|
|Wisconsin Lutheran College||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||58||41||-17|
|Millsaps College (MS)||82, National Liberal Arts Colleges||72||56||-16|
|Sewanee—University of the South (TN)||38, National Liberal Arts Colleges||78||62||-16|
|University of Cincinnati||135, National Universities||62||46||-16|
|University of Toledo (OH)||RNP, National Universities||45||29||-16|
|Illinois State University||152, National Universities||71||56||-15|
|Indiana University—Bloomington||75, National Universities||75||60||-15|
|Northern Illinois University||177, National Universities||54||39||-15|
|St. Mary's University of Minnesota||173, National Universities||62||47||-15|
|University of Kentucky||119, National Universities||58||43||-15|
|Linfield College (OR)||123, National Liberal Arts Colleges||67||53||-14|
|University of Arkansas||128, National Universities||60||46||-14|
|University of Minnesota—Twin Cities||69, National Universities||73||59||-14|
|University of Missouri||97, National Universities||71||57||-14|
|University of Oklahoma||101, National Universities||66||52||-14|
|University of Richmond (VA)||25, National Liberal Arts Colleges||83||69||-14|
|Virginia Military Institute||65, National Liberal Arts Colleges||71||57||-14|
*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 Oct. 17, 2013.