GW ranked low on list of economically diverse colleges

A GW education is still expensive.

The University landed low on The New York Times’ second-ever list of economically diverse colleges that came out last week. This year, GW was ranked No. 151 out of 179 institutions.

The ranking is based on the share of students who receive Pell Grants, the graduation rates for those students and the price that universities charge lower- and middle-class families. The ranking uses 2014 data from the Department of Education.

Researchers combined those factors to create a College Access Index for each school on the list. GW earned a score of 0.68. The top school, the University of California, Irvine, received a score of 1.91, meaning it performed better in all of those affordability markers. Six of the seven top spots belong to schools in the University of California system.

Duke University was GW’s highest-ranked peer school at No. 43. Four of GW’s peer schools were ranked lower than GW — the University of Miami as well as New York, Boston and Southern Methodist universities.

For middle-income families, the net price to attend GW, or the out-of-pocket cost after aid is given out, is about $23,000, according to the data. Six of GW’s 14 peer schools had a lower net price, including Duke, Vanderbilt, Tufts and Emory universities.

In 2014, about 14 percent of GW students received Pell Grants, which the government most often awards to students whose families make less than $20,000 a year. That percentage is up from 9 percent six years ago as GW has increasingly focused on recruiting low-income students.

One of the key indicators for how accessible a school is to low-income students is the number of scholarships it can afford to give out. Schools with larger financial foundations, or endowments, can afford to give more generous financial aid packages to draw in those students. If it were divided between every student, GW’s $1.6 billion endowment equals $63,000 per student, according to the data.

GW’s financial aid pool grew by $27 million to equal $182 million last May, as officials have continually promised to focus on affordability. GW also has a fixed-tuition policy, which keeps tuition rates the same for incoming students.

Last year, GW was ranked No. 84 out of 99 schools for affordability. For this year’s data, The Times included all universities where at least 75 percent of their undergraduate students graduating in five years.

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