An exclusive U.S. News analysis shows how well colleges and universities are succeeding at graduating higher-income students compared with the graduation rate of the overall student body.
U.S. News collected six-year income-based graduation rate data for the fall 2006 entering class as part of our data collection for the 2014 Best Colleges rankings. 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 different sets of graduation rates show how well a college or university serves students of differing income levels. Both Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans – low-interest loans where the interest is paid by the government while a student is in school – are awarded to students based on financial need. Students with neither, then, can be assumed to be from families with relatively high income levels.
U.S. News did not include these three separate graduation rates in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings methodology, but may do so for these important outcome measures in future years.
Measuring the success of college students at lower income levels is one key goal of the president's proposed new college ratings system, to be developed by the U.S. Department of Education and available before the 2015 school year. The plan will identify "colleges that do the most to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as identify colleges that are improving their performance," according to a release from the White House.
The U.S. Department of Education is not currently collecting this information, so it's impossible for those developing the federal college ratings plan to measure the graduation rate of students who are not eligible for Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans separately, or include any differentiation of graduation rates by income group in their analysis.
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 it comes to graduating higher-income students. We compared the six-year graduation rate of higher-income students, as measured by eligibility for Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans, with the six-year rate of the entire graduating class for students who entered in 2006.
U.S. News has defined top-performing schools for this list as those with overall six-year graduation rates of 90 percent or higher and where the graduation rate of students not eligible for Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans is 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, very high level.
Of the 510 ranked schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings categories, 318 submitted information to U.S. News on both the entire fall 2006 student body graduation rate and the graduation rate of students without Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans students for the fall 2006 entering class.
The table below shows the top-performing schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings categories that graduate students who are not eligible for Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans at close to the same, high graduation rates as the overall student body.
|School name (state)||U.S. News rank and category||6-year overall graduation rate||6-year graduation rate of students with no Pell Grant or subsidized Stafford loans||Difference|
|Amherst College (MA)||2, National Liberal Arts Colleges||95||95||0|
|Barnard College (NY)||32, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||89||-1|
|Bowdoin College (ME)||4, National Liberal Arts Colleges||95||95||0|
|Brown University (RI)||14, National Universities||95||95||0|
|Bucknell University (PA)||32, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||91||1|
|California Institute of Technology||10, National Universities||92||93||1|
|Carleton College (MN)||7, National Liberal Arts Colleges||94||94||0|
|Claremont McKenna College (CA)||9, National Liberal Arts Colleges||92||91||-1|
|Colby College(ME)||22, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||89||-1|
|College of the Holy Cross(MA)||25, National Liberal Arts Colleges||93||93||0|
|College of William and Mary (VA)||32, National Universities||90||91||1|
|Colorado College||31, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||89||-1|
|Grinnell College (IA)||17, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||91||1|
|Hamilton College (NY)||14, National Liberal Arts Colleges||91||91||0|
|Johns Hopkins University (MD)||12, National Universities||94||94||0|
|Kenyon College (OH)||32, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||91||1|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||7, National Universities||93||94||1|
|Middlebury College (VT)||4, National Liberal Arts Colleges||94||95||1|
|Northwestern University (IL)||12, National Universities||93||93||0|
|Princeton University (NJ)||1, National Universities||96||97||1|
|Rice University(TX)||18, National Universities||92||93||1|
|Soka University of America(CA)||41, National Liberal Arts Colleges||92||93||1|
|Stanford University (CA)||5, National Universities||95||95||0|
|Swarthmore College (PA)||3, National Liberal Arts Colleges||92||91||-1|
|University of California—Los Angeles||23, National Universities||92||92||0|
|University of Michigan—Ann Arbor||28, National Universities||91||92||1|
|University of Notre Dame(IN)||18, National Universities||95||95||0|
|University of Pennsylvania||7, National Universities||96||96||0|
|University of Southern California||23, National Universities||90||90||0|
|University of Virginia||23, National Universities||93||94||1|
|Vanderbilt University (TN)||17, National Universities||92||92.5||0.5|
|Vassar College (NY)||13, National Liberal Arts Colleges||91||92||1|
|Washington and Lee University (VA)||14, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||91||1|
|Washington University in St. Louis||14, National Universities||94||94||0|
|Wellesley College (MA)||7, National Liberal Arts Colleges||92||92||0|
|Wesleyan University (CT)||17, National Liberal Arts Colleges||91||92||1|
|Yale University(CT)||3, National Universities||96||96.8||0.8|
The table below shows the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges that graduate students without Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans at higher rates than the overall student body, and are thus overperforming.
|School name (state)||U.S. News rank and category||6-year overall graduation rate||6-year graduation rate of students with no Pell Grant or subsidized Stafford loans||Overperformance|
|Claflin University(SC)||RNP*, National Liberal Arts Colleges||44||67||23|
|University of South Dakota||190, National Universities||51||67||16|
|Texas A&M University—Commerce||RNP, National Universities||36||51||15|
|Cleveland State University||RNP, National Universities||34||48||14|
|Eastern Mennonite University (VA)||180, National Liberal Arts Colleges||59||73||14|
|Lyon College(AR)||167, National Liberal Arts Colleges||49||63||14|
|Stillman College(AL)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||25||38||13|
|Tougaloo College (MS)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||52||65||13|
|Berea College(KY)||76, National Liberal Arts Colleges||66||77||11|
|College of the Atlantic (ME)||93, National Liberal Arts Colleges||64||75||11|
|Simpson College (IA)||154, National Liberal Arts Colleges||67||78||11|
|Wayne State University (MI)||RNP, National Universities||28||39||11|
|Hollins University (VA)||110, National Liberal Arts Colleges||56||66||10|
|Northland College (WI)||180, National Liberal Arts Colleges||54||64||10|
|Nova Southeastern University (FL)||RNP, National Universities||42||52||10|
|Emory and Henry College(VA)||173, National Liberal Arts Colleges||46||55.6||9.6|
|Andrews University (MI)||181, National Universities||59||68||9|
|Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (PA)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||18||27||9|
|Salem College(NC)||156, National Liberal Arts Colleges||62||71||9|
|Hendrix College(AR)||82, National Liberal Arts Colleges||72||80||8|
|Maryville College(TN)||176, National Liberal Arts Colleges||53||61||8|
|New Mexico State University||190, National Universities||44||52||8|
|Northern Illinois University||177, National Universities||54||62||8|
|University of Minnesota--Morris||154, National Liberal Arts Colleges||60||68||8|
|University of Toledo (OH)||RNP, National Universities||45||53||8|
The table below shows the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges that graduate students without Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans at lower rates than the overall student body, and are thus underperforming.
|School name (state)||U.S. News rank and category||6-year overall graduation rate||6-year graduation rate of students with no Pell Grant or subsidized Stafford loans||Underperformance|
|South Carolina State University||RNP, National Universities||34||16||-18|
|Ave Maria University (FL)||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||60||51||-9|
|Northeastern University (MA)||49, National Universities||79||72||-7|
|St. Michael's College (VT)||89, National Liberal Arts Colleges||82||75||-7|
|Smith College(MA)||20, National Liberal Arts Colleges||85||80||-5|
|SUNY College--Old Westbury||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges||35||30||-5|
|University of Massachusetts--Lowell||158, National Universities||54||49||-5|
|Illinois College||156, National Liberal Arts Colleges||62||58||-4|
|Our Lady of the Lake University(TX)||RNP, National Universities||27||23||-4|
|St. Anselm College (NH)||120, National Liberal Arts Colleges||74||70||-4|
|Stonehill College (MA)||115, National Liberal Arts Colleges||80||76||-4|
|University of the Pacific (CA)||112, National Universities||63||59||-4|
|Willamette University (OR)||61, National Liberal Arts Colleges||77||73||-4|
|Brandeis University (MA)||32, National Universities||90||87||-3|
|Colgate University (NY)||20, National Liberal Arts Colleges||90||87||-3|
|Moravian College (PA)||138, National Liberal Arts Colleges||74||71||-3|
|Roanoke College (VA)||126, National Liberal Arts Colleges||65||62||-3|
|Stony Brook University--SUNY||82, National Universities||70||67||-3|
|University of San Francisco||117, National Universities||67||64||-3|
|Wofford College(SC)||65, National Liberal Arts Colleges||84||81||-3|
*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 January 30, 2014.