Florida Atlantic ranked one of lowest statewide for post-grad success

A recent study says FAU doesn’t deliver when it comes to graduation rates and graduates’ starting salaries for mid to low income students.


Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Emily Bloch, Senior Editor

Last week, students weren’t the only ones receiving their grades. Florida Atlantic just received a report card and the results aren’t pretty.

A dataset recently released by Third Way — a think tank based out of Washington, D.C. that focuses on topics like public policy — revealed that many colleges have similar issues when it comes to providing a successful environment for low and moderate income students.

For FAU, out of the 12 state schools ranked, it made No. 10, beating out only the University of West Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, respectively. Nationally, the school made the No. 300 spot out of 535 schools total.

“Very little is understood about whether these institutions are actually fulfilling their promise to serve as engines of mobility for the 6.8 million students that walk through their doors each year,” Third Way’s report said. “Specifically, how well are our country’s four-year public colleges and universities equipping students with a degree and the skills they need to obtain well-paying jobs in our modern economy?”

To determine a college’s success or what Third Way calls a “mobility metric,” the study looked at over 500 colleges nationally that offered bachelor’s degrees. From there, it compared these aspects:

  • Net Price – The average price of college for students whose families earned between $0-$48,000 at the time of enrollment
  • Completion Rate – How many first-time full-time students graduated, within six years of enrollment
  • Repayment Rate – The percent of students who have paid at least a dollar toward their loans and have not defaulted three years since they started repayment
  • Earnings – The percent of students who obtained wages over $25,000 six years since graduating
  • Pell Grant – The percent of students enrolled that were eligible for Pell Grants

According to the dataset, FAU’s completion rate is 41.07 percent and the percent of students earning over $25,000 six years past graduation is 66.18.

In comparison, the school’s Miami rival, Florida International University. made the No. 6 spot statewide, with a 50.09 percent completion rate. Six years past graduation, 67.63 percent of FIU’s students were earning over $25,000.

The University of Florida made the No. 1 spot within Florida and No. 28 nationally, with an 85.82 percent completion rate and 72.67 percent of its students making above $25,000 six years after graduating.

Third Way acknowledges that there are some limitations to the data. For example, to be able to compare such a wide set of schools, they looked at aspects from the years 2011 and 2013.

Along with that, the website details how The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), only provided data on students who are eligible for Pell Grants and/or federal student loans, not those who pay exclusively out of pocket.

The data also doesn’t account for students who dropped their full-time study status or transferred schools.

Last year, FAU’s overall six-year graduation rates rose from 40 to 45 percent as reported by the Sun Sentinel. The school also hired more than two dozen advisers to deal with the threat of students on the verge of dropping out.

“I can’t speak to the findings of Third Way,” Mitchell Roshel, the assistant director for internships and cooperative education at FAU, said. “But I can say that here at the Career Center we are working hard to connect students with meaningful employment and internships after they graduate through a variety of career readiness programs.”

Roshel also told the University Press that the school’s Career Center recently put career liaisons in the College of Engineering, the College of Business and the College of Arts and Letters.

“These liaisons are focused on building relationships with each college, its students, and potential employers,” Roshel explained in an email. “They also provide ‘on the spot’ career support for any student needing their services.”

You can see Third Way’s full report here.

Emily Bloch is the senior editor at the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @emdrums.