UVa-Wise students complete degrees with least debt among public liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News ranking

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is the top public national liberal arts colleges whose students graduate with a low debt load, according to the latest issue of U.S. News and World Report’s annual college guide.

The UVa-Wise Class of 2008 completed their degrees with less debt than students at any of the nation’s other public liberal arts colleges. UVa-Wise remains at the top of the lowest debt list of public liberal arts colleges for the sixth consecutive year, according to the annual college guide, which hits newsstands on Aug. 20. Three private liberal arts colleges were ranked above UVa-Wise in the overall lowest debt list of liberal arts colleges.

Among the UVa-Wise Class of 2008, 59 percent graduated without debt. The average amount of debt for UVa-Wise graduates who used student loans is $10,252. In comparison, the average debt load for students at Tougaloo College in Mississippi is $41,000, the liberal arts college with the largest average student debt.

“It is a point of pride for UVa-Wise that we are consistently ranked as the top public liberal arts college that graduates students with the lowest debt,” said UVa-Wise Chancellor David J. Prior. “Nearly 80 percent of our students demonstrate financial need, one of the highest percentages in Virginia. A tremendous benefit of a UVa-Wise education is that our graduates begin graduate school or careers with a low debt load.”

Rusty Necessary, vice chancellor for enrollment management, said the College’s ranking reveals a deep commitment and investment by Virginia and scholarship donors who make scholarships and financial aid available to students in need.

The U.S. News data includes loans taken out by students from financial institutions, federal, state and local governments, and from the colleges themselves. Parents’ loans are not included. The average amount of debt is the average cumulative amount borrowed by those students who incurred debt, not the average for all students.

In the recent rankings, UVa-Wise continues to be listed among the nation’s top public liberal arts colleges. The nation’s 266 liberal arts colleges – most of which are private – emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the arts and sciences.

With only the top five national public liberal arts colleges ranked individually in the current report, a precise numerical ranking is not yet available for the College. This is the ninth time UVa-Wise has been included in the national ranking.

Each school’s rank within its group of peer institutions is based on the same set of quality measures. Seventy-five percent of the ranking is based on a formula that includes objective measures of academic quality, such as graduation rates, freshman retention, class size, student selectivity, student/faculty ratios, faculty salaries, SAT scores, acceptance rates, financial resources, and alumni giving rates.

The remaining 25 percent is based on a reputational survey of peer institutions conducted in the early spring. The magazine surveys the president, provost and dean of admissions at each school to rate the perceived quality of the academic programs for schools in the same category, including their own.

The only branch campus of the University of Virginia, UVa-Wise offers Virginia's only undergraduate degree in software engineering, among 28 other degrees and professional programs in the liberal arts tradition of Thomas Jefferson.

For more information, contact the Office of College Relations at 276-328-0130.