Texas Lutheran University (TLU) is an official U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” selection among regional colleges in the West, ranking third on the list for “Best Value.” This is the ninth consecutive year TLU has been featured on the “Best Value” rankings. Other notable recognitions include TLU’s acknowledgment as a top regional college for Social Mobility—the fifth year the university has appeared in this category.
“To receive consistent recognition by U.S. News as a ‘Best Value’ for nearly a decade now is affirmation of our intentional efforts to offer an outstanding and accessible higher education experience,” TLU President Dr. Debbie Cottrell said. “I am also pleased TLU was again recognized as a top school for Social Mobility since that reinforces the power and potential of a TLU education to change lives. We remain dedicated to identifying with and working to serve our region through our commitment to service and career development.”
TLU earns the No. 3 spot in the West for “Best Value” based on its high overall ranking combined with modest net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid. According to U.S. News & World Report, these are schools that are above average academically and cost considerably less than many other schools when the financial aid they award, in the form of need-based grants and scholarships, is considered. Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included, because the publication considers the most significant values to be among colleges that are above average academically.
Social mobility measures how well schools graduated students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually, though most Pell Grant money goes to students with a total family income below $20,000). According to U.S. News, this group of students are less likely than others to finish college, even when controlling for other characteristics. However, colleges like TLU are more successful than others at advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants.
U.S. News & World Report also unveiled a new ranking system for 2024 that heavily considers reputation, cost of attending, and return on investment. Other refinements made to this year's rankings formula included modifying the weights of several other factors (graduation rates, first-year retention rates, Pell Grant graduation rate, Pell Grant graduation performance, and introducing a few new ones (first-generation student graduation rates and performance and graduate earnings compared to high school graduates). The organization increased the emphasis on how often schools' students from all socioeconomic backgrounds earned degrees and took advantage of information on graduate outcomes that was not available until recently.
As in past years, changes in methodology, together with changes in individual schools' data, can result in significant changes to schools' rankings. The underlying data used to compute these measures was collected from third-party sources and oftentimes reported directly by schools to U.S. News in alignment with what they recently reported to the government and/or following Common Data Set (CDS) initiative guidance.