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Whitworth among top 10 private schools in Pacific Northwest on Forbes’ 2015 list of Best Colleges

August 10, 2015

Whitworth ranked fifth highest in the state

Whitworth has landed once again on Forbes’ annual rankings of the top undergraduate institutions in the United States. Whitworth joins some of the most prestigious schools in the country in the magazine’s latest rankings, where it is listed as one of the top 10 private schools in the Pacific Northwest.

The list is posted on Forbes’ website and in the Aug. 17, 2015, issue of Forbes magazine. The magazine, which says its rankings are consumer-oriented and emphasize return on investment, bases its rankings on criteria including post-graduate success, graduation rates, academic success, and levels of debt upon graduation. The rankings are prepared exclusively for Forbes by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Pomona College tops Forbes’ 2015 list, followed by Williams College, Stanford University, Princeton University, Yale University, Harvard University and Brown University. Of the 650 schools listed, Whitworth is ranked No. 206 overall (up from 231 in 2014) and No. 41 in the West, making it the fifth-highest ranked school, public or private, in Washington state. Other private schools in the Pacific Northwest that made the overall rankings include Whitman College (No. 50), Reed College (No. 52), Willamette University (No. 138), University of Puget Sound (No. 169), University of Portland (No. 174), Gonzaga University (No. 187), Seattle University (No. 276), Pacific Lutheran University (No. 265), Linfield College (No. 278), Seattle Pacific University (No. 300), and Pacific University (No. 324).

“Families are understandably concerned about the cost of higher education, so it’s more important than ever that they focus on the net price they will pay after financial aid, the time to degree, and career and graduate school placement rates,” says Greg Orwig, vice president for admissions and financial aid at Whitworth. “Readers of Forbes magazine also are savvy enough to understand that a college degree is not a commodity purchase. There is significant value students receive from the small class sizes, individual faculty mentoring, and experiential- learning opportunities at schools like Whitworth that simply aren’t available at larger universities that may have a lower price tag in the short term.”

According to the Forbes website, the rankings seek to provide answers to questions that are top-of-mind for prospective college students: “Is it likely I will graduate in four years? Will I incur a ton of debt getting my degree? And once I get out of school, will I get a good job and find success in my career?” Forbes’ rankings are based on five general categories: post-graduate success, which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; student satisfaction, which includes professor evaluations and freshman-to-sophomore-year retention rates; debt, which penalizes schools for high student-debt loads and default rates; four-year graduation rate; and competitive awards, which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships such as the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright.

Whitworth will award more than $50 million in grants and scholarships to undergraduate students in 2015-16. Ninety-nine percent of incoming freshmen will receive financial aid, and the average freshman financial-aid award is over $32,300. The percentage of Whitworth graduates who finish in four years is 85 percent, well above the national average. The university has a low student-faculty ratio of 11-to-1, even as undergraduate enrollment has risen over the past two decades. Steep increases in tuition and fees at many public institutions, as well as a longer average time to graduate, make four-year completion rates an increasingly important factor in estimating college costs; these factors directly affect variables such as average debt load.

In spring 2015, Whitworth was recognized as a top producer of students who received Fulbright awards for 2014-15. Six Whitworth students are currently serving in the prestigious program, more than any higher education institution in Washington state except for the University of Washington, which produced seven Fulbright Scholars for 2014-15. Whitworth has a long-standing tradition of producing Fulbright Scholars each year: Since 2000, 23 Whitworth students have been selected as Fulbright scholars; in addition, four faculty members and one professor emeritus have received Fulbright fellowships in recent years.

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


Greg Orwig, vice president for admissions and financial aid, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4580 or

Nancy Hines, director of communications, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4638 or