WWU students graduate with less debt than those at many other schools. In fact, the 2016 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges ranks William Woods third among Midwest universities for graduates with the lightest debt load.
Although 71 percent of WWU’s students incur debt while in college, they owe an average of only $21,260 when they graduate. By comparison, the average amount of debt for students at another Midwestern university (College of St. Scholastica in Minnesota) is $42,792.
According to U.S. News, the data include loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions and from federal, state and local governments.
“We knew we were doing a good job of keeping our costs low and preparing our students well for careers and life after college, but it is always nice to be recognized for our accomplishments,” Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, said.
Previously the College Database recognized William Woods University for providing high quality education at an affordable price. WWU was one of five private not-for-profit Missouri schools named. In addition, AffordableCollegesOnline.org (AC Online) identified WWU as one of 20 Missouri colleges and universities with the greatest lifetime return on investment.
“I am pleased that our efforts are being acknowledged,” Barnett said. “From our faculty and staff, to our alumni and donors, everyone works to make this a great place for our students to get an education and to succeed in life after WWU.”
Barnett credited WWU’s LEAD program for making a William Woods education affordable and allowing students to graduate with less debt. LEAD rewards students with a $5,000 tuition reduction each year for attending lectures, art openings, educational events, theatre productions, leadership workshops and athletic competition.
According to Barnett, LEAD is designed to expand students’ interests and enrich their university experience. It is available to any student, regardless of financial need, who agrees to make the commitment to campus and community involvement.
In addition to the good news about student debt, William Woods University ranked in the top 100 universities in the Midwest for the sixth year in a row. Altogether 620 regional universities were evaluated.
“This ranking solidifies William Woods University’s position among the leading universities in the region,” Barnett said. “It is excellent news for our stakeholders, particularly our alumni and students, as the value of their educational investment continues to increase.”
Barnett added, “We take our responsibility to our students very seriously, for we know we play an important role in the lives of these young people, and we provide the best education possible.”
Regional universities, the category where William Woods is ranked, offer a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs but few doctoral programs. The universities are not ranked nationally but rather against their peer group in one of four geographic regions—North, South, Midwest and West—because, in general, they tend to draw students most heavily from surrounding states.
Included in the Midwest classification are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Only four other private universities and five public universities in Missouri were included in the top 100 Midwest regional universities.
Over the past two decades, the U.S. News Best Colleges issue has grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.
However, some higher education institutions have criticized U.S. News for its rankings, and an article regarding their methodology seemed to address that issue.
“The host of intangibles that make up the college experience can’t be measured by a series of data points,” an article by Robert J. Morse and Eric Brooks reads. “But for families concerned with finding the best academic value for their money, the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, now in their 31st year, provide an excellent starting point for the search.”
U.S. News bases its ranking of 1,376 colleges and universities on several key measures of quality, including assessment of excellence, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving. Scores for each measure are weighted to arrive at a final overall score.
The exclusive rankings are contained in the 2016 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook. The guidebook is available at www.usnews.com/colleges and will be on newsstands later this month.