WAC in Kiplinger’s Top 300
- Chris Gardner
The prestigious annual listing in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine places WC in the top 300 schools nationally, and among the top 100 liberal arts colleges nationally, for affordability and academic quality.
For the first time, Washington College has been ranked among colleges and universities providing the best combination of economic value and academic quality in the annual Top 300 Best College Values by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. In addition to ranking 232nd among the top 300 institutions out of 1,200 surveyed, Washington College is listed 91st among the top 100 liberal arts colleges nationally.
“Washington College has long been known for its academic excellence; now, we are gaining traction through our steady efforts to control costs and focus on affordability,” says College President Sheila Bair. “Our tuition freeze for the past year was certainly a factor in this achievement. So was our performance within the salary yardstick metric, as our graduates go on to careers that provide excellent income. I’m extremely proud and gratified to see Washington College in Kiplinger’s 2017 rankings, as it directly reflects our hard work to make an exceptional liberal arts education more accessible to all students.”
The Kiplinger’s rankings, which began in 1998, are particularly valuable because unlike other rankings, they do not include subjective criteria in their assessments. Using information on nearly 1,200 public and private institutions provided to Peterson’s College Data, Kiplinger’s quality measures—which are weighted at 55% of total points—include the admission rate, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-to-faculty ratio, and the four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria—weighted at 45%—include sticker price, financial aid, and average debt at graduation.
All of these factors reflect overarching parameters of competitiveness, success at graduating within four years, academic support, student debt, cost, and financial aid. To provide some measure of how an institution’s graduates fare in the real world, Kiplinger’s uses Education Department data on students who received federal financial aid and examines median income of those students 10 years after graduation.
“There’s no way around it: College is expensive, and it’s going to stay that way for a long time,” says Janet Bodnar, Editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “So, with our rankings—which weigh affordability alongside academic quality—our goal is to help students and their parents understand what’s really worth the price. While some may have ranked higher than others, all 300 schools on the list are of extraordinary value, being chosen out of a universe of 1,200.”
Since her inauguration in September 2015, President Bair has made affordability and accessibility a primary mission of her administration through a series of initiatives. The tuition freeze, which was announced in September 2015, has now been followed with FixedFor4, which, beginning in fall 2017, will fix tuition for incoming students for all four years of their WC career.
In May, the College launched Dam the Debt, which reduced the federally subsidized loan debt of 119 qualifying seniors by an average of $2,630, a 10.2 percent reduction in their total federal loan burden. Eight more students graduating in the fall 2016 semester qualified for $22,000 in Dam the Debt relief with an average grant of $2,750, a reduction of 12.8 percent in their total federal loan burden.
In August, the first 16 students of George’s Brigade matriculated as part of the Class of 2020; these high-achieving, high-need, first-generation students will have their full tuition, room, board, and fees covered for all four years. Also in August, the College announced the Saver’s Scholarship, a College-matched award up to $2,500 annually, for students and families who use proceeds from a 529 or Educational Savings Account for tuition.
Kiplinger’s complete rankings are available at kiplinger.com/links/colleges and will appear in print in the February 2017 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands January 3.