West Virginia Northern Community College, with campuses in Wheeling, Weirton and New Martinsville, continues to be one of the most affordable colleges in America, according to statistics compiled by the federal government.
For the second year in a row, WVNCC has made the national College Affordability and Transparency Center list compiled by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System used by the U.S. Department of Education. While Northern was on the list as being a public, two-year institution of higher learning with the lowest net prices, the list also provides data for the most expensive institutions of higher learning in the country. The 2013 list was made public late last month.
Dr. Martin J. Olshinsky, president of Northern, lauded the WVNCC Board of Governors for its long-time efforts in controlling tuition costs. “We’ve known for some time that we are leaders in affordability in the state and the Upper Ohio Valley. It’s gratifying for Northern to be also recognized nationally in such a positive light,” he added.
The 2013 list provides information on institutions with the highest tuition and highest net price and the lowest tuition and lowest net price. Two other West Virginia institutions were cited among the lowest net price, including Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College and Bridgemont Community and Technical College.
According to Janet Fike, vice president of student services at Northern, the lists are generated with the following criteria: tuition includes the tuition and required fees as reported to IPEDS by the institution and net price includes the cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid as reported to and calculated by IPEDS.
Fike said the lists that show the highest are the top 5 percent while the lists for the lowest are the bottom 10 percent. This year the list for the Highest Tuition has 50 institutions cited and the list for the Highest Net Prices has 49. The list that shows those with the Lowest Tuition has 99 institutions listed, 92 of which are in California. The list for Lowest Net Prices has 98 institutions, with WVNCC listed at number 89 with a net price of $3,414. Bridgemont is number 36 with a net price of $2,081 and Southern is number 13 with a net price of $926.
Fike explained the average net price is the average price of attendance that is paid by fulltime, undergraduate, degree-seeking students after grants and scholarships are taken into account. The average net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state and local government or institutional grant or scholarship aid from the cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published in-state tuition and required fees, books and supplies and, if applicable, the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.
“This ranking for Northern shows conclusively that WVNCC has excellent processes that help our students with financial aid, grants and scholarships,” Fike said.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 called for the College Affordability and Transparency Lists to be created by July 1 of last year. Under the requirements, six lists were created. Three lists focus on tuition and fees, and three others look at the institution’s “average net price.” Each list was broken out into nine different sectors to allow students to compare costs at similar types of institutions.