University News Service

Howard Payne University climbed six slots to No. 3 in the “Best Value” category of “Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s” in the Western region of the United States, according to “America’s Best Colleges 2008,” published by U.S. News & World Report.

According to the magazine report, schools that are ranked in the “Best Value” category are “above average academically and cost significantly less than many when the financial aid, in the form of need-based grants that they dispense, is taken into account.” Additionally, for the fifth consecutive year, HPU is named as a “Top School,” and is tied at number 14 in this category, where as last year the university was ranked 16th.

“America’s Best Colleges 2008,” was made public Friday.

“We are very pleased that Howard Payne continues to be recognized as a “Top School” in the “America’s Best Colleges 2008” issue of U.S.News & World Report,” said HPU President Dr. Lanny Hall. “We are especially proud to be ranked No. 3 in the ‘Best Value’ category of comprehensive bachelor’s degree-granting institutions in the Western region of the nation.”

There are 320 comprehensive colleges, ranked by U.S. News & World Report within four geographic regions: North, South, Midwest and West. Howard Payne University is one of 48 schools in the western region of the United States. Like all U.S. News categories, the groupings are derived from framework established by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2006.

HPU is also listed favorably in the Western region among comprehensive bachelor’s colleges in five other categories including “Highest Proportion of Classes Under 20,” “Campus Ethnic Diversity,” “Economic Diversity,” “Lowest Acceptance Rates” and “Highest Graduation Rates.”

In the category of “Highest Proportion of Classes under 20,” the report shows that 71 percent of classes at HPU have less than 20 students enrolled, highlighting HPU’s low faculty-to-student ratio.

HPU is listed in the “Campus Ethnic Diversity” section for having a 15 percent Hispanic enrollment. The data analyzed in this category came from HPU’s 2006-2007 student body, and is one percentage point higher than last year’s report.

The university is also noted in the “Economic Diversity” category. According to the report, 39 percent of HPU undergraduates receive Pell Grant funding, an indicator of a large percentage of low-income students.

For the second year, HPU is named as one of the “nation’s most competitive in terms of admissions.” HPU is thus listed in the “Lowest Acceptance Rate” section.

Also for the second year in a row, the university is listed in the “Highest Graduation Rate” category. This section highlights colleges and universities with the “highest rates of students who graduate in four years.”

According to the report, 73 percent of HPU students graduate with some level of debt. “HPU is concerned that students are taking on more and more debt to fund their college education,” said Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Dr. Brad Johnson. “While the number of students at Howard Payne University with debt is lower than many of our peer institutions, the students who do take out loans are taking out larger amounts than at other institutions in the same category.

“We will be studying the student debt load carefully to determine what actions can be taken to alleviate the debt burden students acquire while at HPU.”

“America’s Best Colleges 2008” is available this week on newsstands across the nation.