Universities are in the Money


Grand Valley State University’s presence in downtown Grand Rapids adds to the opportunities available to Kent County residents. Photo by Johnny Quirin

Two West Michigan universities are ranked among the top improving high-value institutions in the nation.

Money, Time Inc.’s personal finance news and advice brand, recognized Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University among the top 14 public colleges and universities as the most rapidly improving high-value institutions in the nation when it recently released its most improved public colleges ranking.


Based on data from a new study indicating graduation rates have risen in the last decade by a Washington D.C.-based think tank known as The Education Trust, Money analyzed the results against its ranked colleges to identify the top 14 stand-out public institutions.

Each of the 14 public colleges have above-average graduation rates, increased the rate of graduation for all students by nearly 10 percent since 2003, and have reduced racial achievement gap disparities.

The rankings

While Money’s 14 most improved colleges list included names such as the University of Georgia, San Diego State University and Ohio State University, two West Michigan universities also were recognized for their combination of educational quality, affordability and financial success of graduates.

Although GVSU is ranked No. 473 overall for Money’s Best Colleges, it was considered the ninth most improved public college in the nation, with a graduation rate of nearly 70 percent as of 2013. The Allendale-based university also has an acceptance rate of about 83 percent, an enrollment of more than 21,300 students, and a net price of $106,889 for a degree.

FSU was ranked 11th in terms of most improved with an overall placement at No. 509 out of 736 Money’s Best Colleges. The university’s graduation rate as of 2013 was 43 percent, and its acceptance rate was nearly 76 percent. The Big Rapids university has an enrollment of more than 13,200 students, and a net price of approximately $100,500 for a degree.

Education Trust study

The Education Trust’s “Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?” study released in early December is part of a series of research papers examining graduation rates among underrepresented minority students. The report looked at the improving graduation rates in the country, and analyzed whether the gains have also positively affected underrepresented students and closed longstanding gaps between groups.

The study indicated more than 65 percent of all four-year public institutions increased graduate rates from 2003 to 2013, and nearly 77 percent of 255 improved institutions serving a large population of African-American, Latino and Native American students raised graduation rates. In comparison to other student groups, the study found the gaps have “narrowed by less than one percentage point in 10 years” which is a rate “far too slow to close completion gaps,” according to the report.

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