Vanderbilt named to list of most affordable colleges for low-income students

(John Russell/Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt University has been named one of the “40 most affordable colleges for low-income students” by Money magazine.

Vanderbilt is No. 10 on the list of schools where “students from families earning less than $48,000 can typically graduate debt-free,” the magazine says.

For its criteria, Money cited a new benchmark for affordability established by the Lumina Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving higher education access and success. The foundation has proposed that a college be called “affordable” if the cost of a bachelor’s degree is no more than the total of 10 percent of a family’s discretionary income over 10 years, or the amount a student can earn working 10 hours per week during the school year.

“For families who don’t have much discretionary income, that means a college is ‘affordable’ only if it charges no more per year than a student can earn working part-time, which Lumina estimates at $3,625 a year,” according to the magazine.

Money tested this definition of affordability against the net prices that colleges report to the government for different income groups.

“Using this measure, we found only 40 ‘affordable’ colleges for low-income students that met our standard for acceptable graduation rates. … All of the colleges on this list appear to provide enough scholarships so that a typical low-income student who works part-time should be able to graduate debt-free,” the magazine says.

Approximately 15 million families in the United States earn less than about $48,000. That group makes up more than one-third of all families with children under the age of 18.

More about this ranking and the complete list of affordable schools can be found on the Money website.