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WVNCC Among Most Affordable in U.S.

Posted 08/22/14

For the third consecutive year, West Virginia Northern Community College has been cited by the federal government as one of the most affordable colleges in America. WVNCC’s net price is the second lowest among the state’s two-year institutions on the 2014 list.

WVNCC once again made the national College Affordability and Transparency Center list compiled by theIntegrated Postsecondary Education Data System used by the U.S. Department of Education. Northern’s ranking was on the list of public, two-year institutions of higher learning with the lowest net prices. The 2014 list was announced in late July. The only other West Virginia two-year college on the lowest list was Bridgemont Community and Technical College in Montgomery.

While maintaining high quality programs, affordability and accessibility are among Northern’s most long-standing goals, according to Dr. Martin J. Olshinsky, president. Olshinsky said the institution’s Board of Governors, along with the college’s administration, are acutely aware of the rising costs of college. “Our financial decision-making process begins and ends with respect for how our students will be impacted. That value has been recognized because we continue to be included in the nation’s most affordable institutions,” Olshinsky said.

On the 2014 list are institutions with the highest tuition and highest net price and those with the lowest tuition and lowest net price. WVNCC ranked as number 66, with a net price of $3,727 on a list of 95 institutions with the lowest net prices. Bridgemont, at $3,617, was ranked at number 57. This compares to the national average of a $7,163 net price.

            Janet Fike, vice president of student services at Northern, said the lists are generated with the following criteria: tuition includes the tuition and required fees as reported to IPEDS by the institution and net prices 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. Last year, WVNCC was listed at number 89 with a net price of $3,414 and Bridgemont was ranked number 36 with a net price of $2,081.

            “That Northern has been cited for three years shows we are consistent in maintaining the processes that help our students with financial aid, grants and scholarships,” Fike said.

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.

            The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 called for the College Affordability and Transparency Lists to be created by July 1 of 2012. 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.