A San Francisco-based nonprofit designed to assist underserved prospective college students from households earning less than $50,000 has included Centre College in its 2016 honor roll.
Utilizing data from the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, ScholarMatch focuses its attention not on perceived reputational attributes but instead on “the top institutions that are truly offering robust student support and achieving excellent outcomes with this population.”
ScholarMatch looks at four main areas: financial aid, academic strength, student support services and postgraduate success. A total 1,400 schools were considered for the honor roll, with only 301 colleges and universities making the cut.
When the honor roll was first launched in 2015, it caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal in an article titled “The New Math of College Rankings.” Jillian Berman focused on the fact that “new websites and greater access to education-related financial data are taking some of the mystery out of college shopping.”
But even more than just a website, ScholarMatch provides free college counseling, both virtually and at its offices in San Francisco, as well as some $300,000 a year in scholarships, based on money raised through crowdfunding.
Pam Baughman, Centre’s director of admission operations, had the opportunity to visit the ScholarMatch offices during a recent recruiting trip to California, where she met with Nicholas Watson, director of college access.
“It was evident that Nicholas and his team are passionate about helping low-income and first-generation students maneuver the college process,” says Baughman. “Our conversation focused on ways in which Centre can prepare these students for a successful college transition, and we look forward to working with the ScholarMatch organization.”
Affordability and access are key components of the Centre mission, and recent success in these areas has helped strengthen campus diversity among underrepresented populations.
“With 90 percent of our students receiving some form of aid, and a new full-tuition-plus scholarship program devoted specifically to first-generation students, we are doing all we can to offer an affordable and high quality college education,” says John A. Roush, Centre’s president since 1998.
Financial support comes from institutional resources that totaled $26 million for the current year, along with the new full-tuition-plus Grissom Scholars Program, which selects 10 first-generation students each year.
In all, 74 first-generation students, or 18 percent, are represented in the Class of 2020, and 21 percent of those U.S. students reporting race identify as students of color. As well, 15 percent of the U.S. students are immigrants or children of immigrants, representing 28 different countries.
ScholarMatch was founded in 2010 by award-winning writer Dave Eggers, author of works such as A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a 2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist, and A Hologram for the King, later turned into the 2016 motion picture starring Tom Hanks and Sarita Choudhury. Eggars also founded the independent publishing house McSweeney’s, which produces an eponymous quarterly magazine and other publications.
Complete information about the 2017 ScholarMatch Honor Roll is available here.
by Michael Strysick
December 20, 2016