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WWU graduates are earning 10 percent more than might be expected

Red Square is a gathering spot at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. WWU graduates are earning 10 percent more than might be expected, according to Money magazine.
Red Square is a gathering spot at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. WWU graduates are earning 10 percent more than might be expected, according to Money magazine. The Bellingham Herald file

A new ranking that sizes up how well the nation’s colleges do at providing value for the money gives several Washington colleges and universities top marks.

The ranking, by Money magazine, rates the University of Washington Seattle as 13th among 711 public and private colleges and universities.

Also in the top 200: Washington State University and Western Washington University.

Money’s analysis is a value ranking, one that evaluates colleges on educational quality, affordability and alumni success. It highlights those schools that provide graduates a boost in the job market and offers them the best odds of real-world success, and it takes into account 27 factors in three categories: quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

The ranking focused on how much money alumni are making. WWU students are earning 10 percent more than might be expected.

The UW was one of 11 public colleges that landed in the top 20. It did well because its tuition is relatively affordable – particularly for low-income students, who paid about $7,000 a year after financial aid was factored in – and because its graduates average more than $55,000 a year in early career earnings. (The median for all 711 schools was $40,800.)

Of course, it’s likely that the high salaries earned by UW grads majoring in computer science, engineering and business caused the average paycheck for alumni to be so high. Money takes that into consideration by showing how much more students are making when the mix of majors is taken into account. UW alumni are making about 4 percent more than would be expected, given the mix of majors.

The UW scored well on “mobility” – a measure of how well a college does at giving access to low-income students and helping them climb the income ladder after graduation. The university has a higher-than-average mobility rate – the percent of young people who come from the bottom quintile of income and reach the top quintile after graduation.

Washington State University ranked 148th on the list, with early career earnings of about $50,000 a year. Its tuition for low-income students is higher, about $11,000 a year after financial aid is considered.

Western Washington University ranked 191st, doing well because of the cost of attendance (about $8,500 in tuition for low-income students, after financial aid is taken into account) and earnings ($48,500). After adjusting for the mix of majors, its students are earning 10 percent more than might be expected.

Also scoring well: Seattle University, which was 216th, and whose graduates are earning $53,600 a year – 12 percent more than might be expected, given the mix of majors.

Money’s editors noted that many of the schools whose graduates do well are in areas of the country where the economy is booming, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Two liberal-arts colleges in Washington scored near the bottom of the list – Whitman College, a private school in Walla Walla, was 547th, and The Evergreen State College, a public college in Olympia, was 633rd. Both schools were near the bottom because average earnings after graduation were comparatively low, under $45,000.

But as the editors noted, this ranking focused on how much money alumni are making – after all, that’s the name of the magazine.

The five top-ranked schools in the nation were Princeton; CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; and Stanford University (UCLA and Stanford tied for fifth).

In years past, UW Bothell did well on the Money ranking, scoring even higher than UW Seattle. However, because of a change in the way school campuses are coded in a federal database that provides some of the underlying data, the UW’s branch campuses were not included this year. A Money researcher said the UW Bothell data still show strong performance for the branch campus, and that the magazine is trying to find ways to include that information at a later date.

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