Section: News

Kenyon tanks in Times rating

by Maya Kaufman

Kenyon has a ways to go in terms of its student body’s economic diversity. The College ranked poorly on The New York Times’ list of “The Most Economically Diverse Top Colleges,” published on Monday, Sept. 8. The Times calculated a College Access Index based on the number of first years who came from low-income families and the net price of college attendance for students from low- and middle-income families. 

One of the ranking’s main metrics is the number of students receiving Pell grants — need-based grants provided by the U.S. Department of Education. From 2012 to 2014, Kenyon had 8 percent Pell students, which ranks the College second — Washington University in St. Louis is first — on the list of top colleges with the lowest number of Pell students. Yet Jennifer Delahunty, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, said that this statistic isn’t the whole story.

“Pell eligibility is just one indicator of socioeconomic diversity,” Delahunty wrote in an email to the Collegian. “While the number of Pell-eligible students at Kenyon is low compared to the other colleges on the list … our net price is one of the lowest — meaning, for those Pell students who attend Kenyon, we have one of the lowest net costs.”

Indeed, many of the colleges who enroll a high number of Pell students have a much higher net attendance price than Kenyon. According to the Times’ table, Kenyon’s net attendance price of $10,200 is lower than the net price of Grinnell College (#2 in overall economic diversity) and Smith College (#4 overall). 

“The College does everything it can within its limited resources to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need,” Todd Burson, associate vice president for finance, wrote in an email to the Collegian.

Despite the College’s efforts, some students said the homogeneity of economic class on campus is noticeable.

“I’m aware of the lack of economic diversity here, however … on a personal level I don’t see it,” Eddie Baxter ’15 said. “I think Kenyon does what they can for now, but if we really rank that low, I guess we can do more.”

President Sean Decatur says he views the Times’ list as a motivation to further improve diversity at Kenyon.

“I am glad that the NYT is putting a spotlight on the issue of economic diversity at elite colleges and universities,” Decatur wrote in an email to the Collegian. “This is an important issue for Kenyon, and the instrument developed by the NYT sheds light on the challenging work ahead in order to make progress on this at Kenyon.”

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