Only 19 universities – including the University of Washington– met the bar for access, affordability and student success set by the Center on Higher Education Reform in an analysis of 1,700 four-year institutions in the U.S.
Last fall President Obama called for a federal college rating system that appraises colleges on access, affordability and success that will govern the allocation of federal student aid dollars. While the rating system has yet to be developed, the Center on Higher Education Reform wanted to consider possible implications of the proposed ratings and came up with its own measures: the number of students receiving Pell grants served as an indicator of access, the net price as an indicator of affordability, and six-year graduation rate as an indicator of success. Net price, according to the center is the out-of-pocket costs, after grants and scholarships, that the average aid recipient paid in a given year.
As one part of its analysis, the center found only 19 institutions out of 1,700 that meet three requirements: 25 percent or more of students receive Pell grants from the U.S. government, the net price is less than $10,000 and the graduation rate in six years is 50 percent or better. The UW’s graduation rate of 81 percent placed it second among the 19 universities, well above the rest that were in the 50-60 percent range.
“We are very gratified to be among the small number of universities that met all three criteria,” said UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce. “These measures show that we remain affordable and accessible to those from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and that if they come here, they have a very high expectation and likelihood of graduating with their degree. We are the only flagship research university among this group, and that means not only will they graduate, but they will get an excellent education.”
The center relied on data from the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
At the UW, 25 percent of students receive Pell grants, the net price is $9,400 and the graduation rate is 81 percent, according to the integrated data system.
Other institutions meeting the bar included four from California – San Diego State University; California State University, Long Beach; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; and California State University, Fullerton – and from eight other states and Puerto Rico.
For all the schools examined, the report says, “The good news is very few institutions are terrible on all three marks. The bad news is very few institutions appear to have broken the iron triangle,” that is the challenge of access, affordability and quality.
Launched last June by the American Enterprise Institute, the Center on Higher Education Reform’s website says it “conducts independent, data-driven research and analysis designed to inform policymaking and shape the higher education reform conversation.”