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Appalachian recognized for helping nonwealthy students afford a college degree

BOONE—Appalachian State University has been ranked No. 9 in the Best Bang For Your Buck category in the 2013 Washington Monthly College Rankings.

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The magazine lists 349 schools for doing “the best job of helping nonwealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.”

According to its website, the magazine considered four criteria for the rankings:

  • At least 20 percent of students enrolled must be receiving Pell Grants, which go to students of modest means (typically those with annual household incomes below $50,000).
  • Those students 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 statistically predicted for that school given the number of lower-income students admitted
  • To make sure their graduates are earning enough in the workforce to at least cover their student loans, schools must have a student loan default rate of 10 percent or less.

The magazine also considered the net price of earning a degree, which is the amount a student pays after factoring any need-based financial aid they receive.

The magazine reports that 23 percent of Appalachian students received Pell grants in 2011. The net price for those receiving need-based financial aid was $7,077. Those students receiving need-based financial aid had a 65 percent graduation rate. Campus wide, 65.2 percent of full-time students received their bachelor’s degree within six years and 13.4 percent transferred to another institution in 2011, according to the College Transparency and Affordability Center’s College Scorecard.

The student loan default rate at Appalachian is 3 percent, compared to the national default rate of 13.4 percent.

The magazine also cited the university’s Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success (ACCESS) program, “which supplements federal financial aid to cover the full cost of education—tuition, fees, and room and board—for low-income students for four years.”

It reported that “ACCESS also provides an individually tailored support program for each student, which includes counseling, tutoring, and links to paid internships and careers. More than 60 percent of ACCESS students graduate without student loan debt, and, impressively, 70 percent of the second ACCESS cohort with academic support graduated within five years.”

The data for the rankings was compiled from U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) for 2010-11, the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System survey and data reported to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

To learn more about the methodology used for the ranking, visit