Augustana named among top colleges for economic diversity

Augustana College
Augustana College, Rock Island, is celebrating its inclusion on the New York Times’ list of U.S. schools with the greatest economic diversity. CREDIT AUGUSTANA COLLEGE

Augustana College is among the top 21% of U.S. schools on the New York Times’ list of colleges and universities with the greatest economic diversity.

The Rock Island liberal arts college was one of only nine private Illinois colleges to make the list, which ranks the most selective universities according to Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges and other metrics, Augustana College said in a news release. 

It also was 24th among national liberal arts schools, and 61st overall among the 286 colleges on The New York Times’ College Access Index list. The economic diversity index was last published in 2017 and originated in 2014.

Augusana economic diversity

According to The New York Times, the index measured economic diversity by analyzing the share of students receiving Federal Pell Grants. Pell Grant recipients are typically from families earning less than $50,000 annually. The maximum award in 2023-2024 is $7,395. The award amount depends on a student’s financial need, costs to attend school, full- or part-time status, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. 

Augustana is tied on this year’s economic diversity index with University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Both schools recorded 27% of incoming first-year students receiving Pell Grants. Augustana also saw a 2% increase in Pell recipients since 2011.

This year, the college has more than 550 Pell Grant recipients. And a number of first-year and transfer recipients saw a 39% year-over-year increase. Augustana’s Pell recipients include 30% of all domestic first-year students and 44% of domestic first-year students of color. 

Quarter of students get Pells

Augustana said it is committed to making a top-quality liberal arts education affordable to all students.

“It’s our mission to continue making strides to ensure achieving an Augustana education is accessible to every student,” Kent Barnds, executive vice president of external relations, said in Augustana’s release. “Increasing numbers of Pell Grant recipients and the introduction of Augustana Possible are markers of success toward this goal.”

Augustana College

This year also was the first year that the college launched its Augustana Possible grants. The grants meet 100% of demonstrated financial need, using all available resources, for high-achieving students from families with lower incomes. Grants were issued to more than 180 first-year students this fall, more than double the original projection of awarding 75 grants to first-year Augustana Possible students. 

Last year, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recognized Augustana for being a good investment for low-income students, the college said. It placed among the top 7% of 3,380 schools in the country for providing a high return on a college investment to Pell Grant-eligible students. 

Augustana President Andrea Talentino said in the release that Augustana continues to be a place where students of all backgrounds can grow. 

“We are proud to be an institution that welcomes and empowers all students to learn and benefit from the rich liberal arts education delivered at Augustana,” Ms. Talentino said. “We know we have the innovative programs and focus on vocational development to help students find their future at Augustana.”

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