The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma received high praise this week, when three national magazines ranked the school among the nation's leaders in serving high performing students from low to middle income families.
Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, U.S. News and World Report and Washington Monthly all praised USAO for the third straight year.
“It is no coincidence that USAO is recognized nationally for its commitment to providing a rigorous education for every student in our state who is willing to work hard, not just those who can easily afford one,” said USAO President John Feaver.
Kiplinger included USAO in its top 100 "Best Values in Public Colleges" in America list. The accolade is granted using a formula that stresses academic quality and level of cost.
“Our mission reflects the wisdom of the people of Oklahoma who understand the social and economic value that this kind of personal empowerment brings," Feaver said.
USAO was the only Oklahoma institution to make America's Best Colleges national liberal arts colles ranking list.
Dex Marble, vice president for academic affairs said he was not surprised to see the university’s academic reputation continue an upward trend.
“Our mission, set out by the State Regents, mandates that we provide the public with a distinctive and accessible liberal arts and sciences education,” said Marble. "We, along with our sister schools in COPLAC (Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges), confront a special set of challenges in being excellent stewards of the people’s money while maintaining the rigor of our curriculum."
In late August, Washington Monthly gave high marks to the university for its economic accessibility, and for fostering upward social mobility among its graduates.
USAO was ranked fourth among 255 liberal arts institutions nationally – a rank based on comparing a school’s graduation rates of lower income federal PELL grant recipients to net price.
USAO’s net price was the second lowest on the list, behind Berea College, Ky.
“In 2012, 87 percent of our student body received some kind of financial aid,” Nancy Moats, director of financial aid said. “This number, which has risen consistently over the past five years, is a reflection of the kind of student who excels at USAO – often first generation college attendees with modest family means but who are high academic achievers.”
A study done at Georgetown University shows as few as 14 percent of lower income students attend the nation's top universities, which leaves USAO in a place to benefit those in financial need.