Henderson State University jumped 11 spots and was named No. 16 among southern colleges and universities in the 2017 Washington Monthly Best Bang for the Buck rankings.
For its regional college rankings, Washington Monthly used data on each university’s six-year graduation rate, how much students earn 10 years after enrollment and whether students are working to pay off student loans. In addition, these rankings factored in the number of first-generation students each college or university enrolls and the net price for enrollment.
“At Henderson State, we believe that a higher education degree is an investment in the future,” said President Glen Jones. “Nearly half of our students are first-generation college students and many come from south Arkansas. We recognize the importance of providing a high-quality experience that is also affordable.”
When factors such as standardized test scores and Pell Grant awards are taken into account, the predicted median earnings for a Henderson State graduate are about $30,000 per year. However, median earnings for Henderson State graduates are almost $35,000 per year, 10 years after enrollment.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, 45 percent of Henderson State’s enrollment was first-generation students, much higher than the predicted 38 percent. These enrollment predictions are based on ACT or SAT scores and Pell Grant awards for each school.
Washington Monthly’s rankings are dedicated to evaluating colleges and universities on the outcomes for students and graduates, a different but relevant way of assessing the transformative capacity of a bachelor’s degree from a particular institution.
“Since 2012, we’ve ranked America’s four-year colleges and universities based on their ‘bang for the buck’— that is, the extent to which they charge students who aren’t rich a reasonable price for quality education that will advance them in their careers,” said Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor at Seton Hall University and data manager of the Washington Monthly College Guide.
Washington Monthly calls its Best Bang for the Buck list, the “exclusive list of schools that help non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.” In 2016, Henderson State was ranked No. 27 in the south.