Four Washington public universities have made Washington Monthly magazine’s list of 100 “Best Bang for the Buck” schools in the nation.
The University of Washington’s Seattle campus is 19th on the list. Western Washington University is 54th, Central Washington University 70th and Washington State University 91st.
When the list is narrowed down to just national universities, the UW ranks 9th among its peers, and WSU ranks 42nd.
The magazine’s editors say that the best-deal list aims to answer the question: “What colleges will charge people like me the least and give me the highest chance of graduating with a degree that means something in the marketplace?”
To make the list, at least 20 percent of a school’s enrollment must be students who are receiving need-based federal Pell Grants, which typically go to households making less than $50,000. The schools must have a graduation rate of at least 50 percent. Each school’s actual graduation rate must meet or exceed the rate that would be predicted through a statistical model, given the number of lower-income students. And the schools must have a student-loan default rate of 10 percent or less.
The best-deal schools were dominated by public universities, although the top-ranked school was private Amherst College in Massachusetts. Amherst topped the list because of its efforts to recruit more low-income students, and for using in-house financial aid to provide generous tuition discounts to middle- and lower-income students.
Three private Washington schools made the list: Northwest University in Kirkland is 217th, Whitworth University in Spokane is 290th and Seattle Pacific University is 298th.
The magazine will issue its full ranking of all schools on Monday. The “Best Bang for the Buck” list was released Thursday, to coincide with President Obama’s speaking tour to promote a new government rating system that would judge schools on affordability and performance. A number of the elements in Obama’s proposal are part of Washington Monthly’s ranking.