Best Colleges in America 2022
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Overall Score: 82.39

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, VA http://www.wlu.edu/
Despite its sticker price (about $58,200 per year for tuition alone), Washington and Lee vows to meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need for everyone via grants and employment. This helps enable three-fourths of undergraduates to graduate without debt. 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. Given Lee's history, the school has faced controversy in the past decade over a perceived lack of sensitivity regarding racial issues, including after a 2020 faculty vote in which 80% supported changing the university's name. The university president has previously apologized for the school's past ownership of slaves and removed Confederate flags from a campus chapel named after Lee. (About 79% of students are white; only about 3% are Black.) When it comes to the workload, students can expect a lot of one-on-one time with professors; the student-faculty ratio is 8:1. W&L has a 95% graduation rate, and alumni typically do well in the working world, bringing in median earnings just over $86,000 during their early careers. One of the social highlights of each year is the annual Fancy Dress Ball, a themed black-tie event that dates back more than a century. Past themes include "Party on the Moon," "Moulin Rouge," and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

Costs

Est. full price 2022-2023
$79,800
% of students who get any grants
61%
Est. price for students who receive aid
$28,700
Average price for low-income students
$210

Admissions

Acceptance rate
19%
Median SAT/ACT score
1430/29
SAT/ACT required?
No
Undergraduate enrollment
1,840

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
100%
% of need met
100%
% of students who get merit grants
8%
Average merit grant
$40,950

Student Success

Graduation rate
95%
Average time to a degree
4 years
Median student debt
$19,500
Early career earnings
$86,020
% earning more than a high school grad
86%

Notes: Students who get merit grants are full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants. Graduation rate measures degree completion within six years for both transfer students and first-time students. Early career earnings are the median earnings for both graduates and non-completers, 10 years after they first enrolled.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson’s, Money/Witlytic calculations.

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