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Rank: 26

Washington and Lee University

Despite its sticker price (about $54,000 per year for tuition alone), Washington and Lee awards so much aid that the all-in price of a degree is comparatively low for a private liberal arts school. The university vows to meet 100% of the determined need for everyone via grants and employment, which in part enables two-thirds of undergrads 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 recent years over a perceived lack of sensitivity regarding racial issues (80% of students are white; only about 9% 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. 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 an impressive 92% graduation rate, and alumni typically do well in the working world. Recent graduates report earning about $63,200 within three years, according to PayScale. 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 2019-2020
$68,900
% of students who get any grants
57%
Est. price for students who receive aid
$26,700
Average price for low-income students
$500
admissions
Acceptance rate
22%
Median SAT/ACT Score
1420/32
SAT/ACT required?
Yes
Enrollment
1,819
Financial Aid
% of students with need who get grants
100%
% of need met
100%
% of students who get merit* grants
8%
Average merit grant
$39,088
student success
Graduation rate
92%
Average time to a degree
4 years
Average student debt
$19,920
Average salary within 3 years
$63,200
% of low-income students who become upper middle class
51%
key deadlines
Early decision application
Nov 1
Regular application
Jan 1

* Share of full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson's, PayScale.com, MONEY/College Measures calculations, Opportunity Insights.

* Share of full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson's, PayScale.com, MONEY/College Measures calculations, Opportunity Insights.

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