Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Whitworth once again named a Kiplinger’s best value among private universities

Whitworth jumps 24 spots, remains one of the highest-ranked schools in the Pacific Northwest 

In an economic environment that makes a college education even more essential than in the past, yet also more difficult to afford, Whitworth University was included for the sixth straight year on Kiplinger's annual rankings of the 100 best values among private universities in the United States. The university joins some of the most elite schools in the country in the magazine's 2012-13 rankings. Whitworth is one of the smallest universities to appear on the list, yet it is the second-highest-ranked school in the Pacific Northwest and ranks ahead of all but a handful of other private universities on the West Coast.

The list is posted to the Kiplinger website and will appear in the December issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, due on newsstands Nov. 7. The magazine ranks the 100 best values among private liberal arts colleges and the 100 best values among private universities separately, though both lists are based on the same criteria of academic quality and affordability. Whitworth placed in the top 100 because of a high four-year graduation rate, low average student debt at graduation, good student-to-faculty ratio, excellent on-campus resources and overall great value.

“Kiplinger’s list of the best private colleges has become a recognized and respected resource for families researching the best values in college education,” says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “The schools on this year’s list offer students both academic excellence and affordability, which is increasingly important in this challenging economic landscape.”

Yale University tops Kiplinger’s list of best values for private universities, followed by Rice, Princeton and Duke. West Coast schools joining Whitworth (No. 38) in the rankings are Stanford University (No. 8), Gonzaga University (No. 31), Pepperdine University (No. 47), the University of Portland (No. 57), and Seattle Pacific University (No. 87), among others. The complete rankings can be accessed online at www.kiplinger.com/tools/privatecolleges.

The academic quality measures in Kiplinger's rankings include the percentage of applicants granted admission; freshman scores on the verbal and math sections of the SAT and ACT; student-faculty ratio; and four- and six-year graduation rates. Last year, Kiplinger adjusted its criteria so that the rankings give more weight than they did previously to the four-year graduation rate and to colleges that keep student debt down.

Whitworth's student selectivity has increased dramatically as the number of freshman applications has grown more than 383 percent over the past decade – to 6,940 for fall 2012, from 1,811 in fall 2002. This fall’s incoming freshman class of about 630 students is Whitworth’s most academically successful freshman class ever – with an average high-school GPA of 3.77 and average SAT of 1807. Whitworth has an average freshman-sophomore retention rate of 86 percent and an average six-year graduation rate of 77 percent, though the percentage of graduates who finish in four years is 85 percent. All of these measures are well above national averages. In addition, the university has lowered its student-faculty ratio to 11-to-1 even as undergraduate enrollment has risen. Meanwhile, 45 percent of 2012 Whitworth grads studied abroad, and more than 50 percent of students have completed an internship or practicum by the time they graduate.

"It’s an honor to be ranked by Kiplinger’s for the sixth straight year as one of the best private university values in the U.S.,” says Greg Orwig, Whitworth's vice president for admissions and financial aid. “The best values rankings in Kiplinger’s, U.S. News and other outside ranking organizations recognizes Whitworth’s unwavering commitment to provide both the highest quality academic experience and robust financial aid for our students. We hope it also underscores the fact that that a Whitworth education of mind and heart is an outstanding investment toward achieving long-term life and career success.”

The financial aid measures factored into Kiplinger's rankings include total costs for the 2012-13 academic year; cost minus the average need-based aid amount (excluding loans); the average percentage of a student's financial need met by the school's aid package; the percentage of the average aid package that comes from grants or scholarships; the cost for a student with no demonstrated need after subtracting the average non-need aid amount (excluding loans); the percentage of all undergraduates without need who received non-need-based aid; and the average amount of debt owed by a graduate who took out an educational loan.

Whitworth will provide more than $41 million in grants and scholarships to undergraduate students in 2012-13, and the average financial aid award for Whitworth 2012 freshmen receiving aid is over $29,000. Ninety-eight percent of freshmen received some form of financial aid from the university this year.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts: 

Greg Orwig, vice president for admissions and financial aid, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4580 or gorwig@whitworth.edu.

Andrea Idso, interim public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or aidso@whitworth.edu.