Whitman College Ranks Last in Economic Diversity

Emily Lin-Jones

Whitman College was placed at the bottom of a statistical survey published on the New York Times website Monday which measured the economic diversity of 97 U.S. colleges. To be considered for the survey, colleges needed to have a graduation rate higher than 75 percent. The survey ranked colleges according to their financial accessibility for lower- and middle-income students.

Among the colleges surveyed, Whitman, along with Claremont McKenna College, had the largest recorded drop in Pell Grants given to incoming first-years. Between 2008 and 2014, the average number of Pell Grants dropped from 10 to 13. Meanwhile, Whitman’s net price of attendance for students from lower- and middle-income families hovers in the upper-tenth percentile of the listed colleges, at $24,800.

Whitman’s College Access Index, a statistical measurement calculated by a combination of the net price of attendance and the average Pell Grants awarded, placed it in last place on the New York Times list with a score of -3. Vassar College and Grinnell College, liberal arts colleges similar in size to Whitman, led the rankings with scores of 3.1 and 2.7, respectively.

On Wednesday, writer Choire Sicha published an article in online publication The Awl in response to the New York Times list, decrying the college’s lack of diversity and criticizing its approach to admissions and financial aid.

President George Bridges said in a statement Wednesday that the college is “not satisfied” with Whitman’s ranking on the list. He did not respond to the criticisms leveled against the administration in The Awl.

The Pioneer reached out to the Office of Financial Aid and Office of Admissions for comment on Wednesday, Sept. 10. The Office of Financial Aid declined to comment until the college releases its official response to the New York Times ranking. As of Thursday morning, the Office of Admissions has not returned The Pioneer‘s calls for comment.

Correction: The Sept. 11 version of this article incorrectly identified Choire Sicha as a Whitman alumnus. He did not attend the college.