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NU’s below average — by one measure

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A new report on how accessible top colleges are to low income students gives Northwestern University a below average score.

The analysis by the New York Times of what it calls the College Access Index ranks Evanston-based Northwestern 67th among the top 100 schools.

Schools were included in the list based on having a four-year graduation rate of 75 percent or higher.

The index was based on the net price of attendance for low- and middle-income families and the share of freshman coming from low-income families, measured by the proportion receiving Pell grants.

Northwestern, with 14 percent of students receiving Pell grants and a net price for low- to middle-income students of $15,400 a year, ended up with an access index of -0.5.

Other schools ranged from an index of 3.1 at top-ranked Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to a low of -3.0 for Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.

The Times also concluded that the size of a college's endowment per student doesn't appear to have much impact on where it ranked on the index.

Northwestern, with an endowment of $310,000 per student, was less accessible than many schools with proportionately smaller endowments — but did better than some others with bigger endowments.

And Northwestern did show signs of improvement — ranking 41st on the list in the percentage increase in Pell grant recipients enrolled recently, compared to five years earlier.

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