Washington and Lee University
courtesy of Washington & Lee

Washington and Lee University

Jul 24, 2014

Despite its high sticker price ($58,580 last year), Washington and Lee awards so much aid that the all-in price of a degree is comparatively low for a private liberal arts school. And, unlike the Ivy League and many other elite private colleges, W&L offers some merit scholarships to top students who might not qualify for need-based aid.

One of the oldest colleges in the U.S., Washington and Lee is named after George Washington, who endowed the struggling school with a $20,000 gift in 1796, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who served as the university's president after the Civil War. Recently the school has faced controversy over a perceived lack of sensitivity regarding racial issues (more than 80% of students are white; only about 10% percent come from low-income households). In response, the university president apologized for the school's past ownership of slaves and ordered Confederate flags removed from a campus chapel named after Lee.

W&L students who go on to graduate typically do well in the work world. Recent graduates report earning about $48,000 within five years, about $4,500 more than would be expected for a school with its student body profile. One of the campus social highlights of each year is the annual Fancy Dress Ball, a themed black-tie event that’s been hosted by the school for more than 100 years.

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