by Henry Thornton, Annie Blanks, Anna Nayfa
On September 8 The New York Times released an index of the financial accessibility of the nation’s colleges and Sewanee ranked as one of the 10 least accessible. The article was written by David Leonhardt and aimed to list the most accessible colleges for lower and middle income families. Sewanee had the largest net cost of attendance of any college in the study. The Times calculated the average tuition paid by one the students in question at $34,700.The study is called the College Access Index, which was published on the Times blog “The Upshot” on September 8 2014. The colleges listed were all those who graduated 75% of more of their seniors from the 2011-2012 school year.
From the Times, “The College Access Index is a combination of net price and the Pell average for 2011, 2012 and 2013, using a statistical technique known as a z-score. A college with an average score on the two measures in combination will receive a zero.” Sewanee got a – 2.1. Vassar led colleges in the index with a 3.1, a hefty lead over even the second most accessible school, Grinnell, which earned a 2.7. Paul Wiley, the Assistant Provost for Academic Services and Institutional Research asserts that the data in the Times article “was incorrectly computed and incorrectly reported to to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.” He maintains that “The corrected data yields an average net price to these students of $13,010 rather than $34,724.”
Mrs. Berner adds that “When he (Wiley) recomputed the z-scores and index (sic) used in the article, Sewanee would have ranked 21st instead of in the 90s.”When asked about reports of students leaving Sewanee due to the university decreasing their financial aid package Mrs. Berner replied that “financial aid awards are decreased only when a student’s family’s ability to pay increases, or when the student’s academic performance falls below the stipulations of their award.” She added that “students who leave Sewanee often cite a number of reasons” and that “In any case, the number of students who would leave due to packages being reduced.”