(Updated for 2021) I just finished updating the list of 50-50 colleges with the latest IPEDS data release and, as usual, thought I would share some statistically non-significant (as far as I know) observations. For those who don’t know what I mean by 50-50 colleges, these are colleges that accept at least 49% of students and have at least a 49% graduation rate. There are currently 561 such institutions with at least 500 or more full-time undergraduates.
The reason this is such a big deal is that it represents less than a third of all four-year colleges. If you include schools that accept less than 49%, you add another 149 colleges to the list. That’s still well less than half of all four-year schools. So, yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.
If you want a copy of the list, you can download it here.
More 50-50 Colleges in More States
Now for the interesting information I was talking about. Alaska is now the only state without a 50-50 school this year. The total number of private schools increased from 325 to 334 and the public from 201 to 227. Over a third of all private colleges and slightly under a third of public institutions meet the 50-50 requirements.
There are only nine states where at least half of public universities are 50-50 schools. Unfortunately, there are 21 states where 25% or fewer of public institutions qualify as 50-50 schools. This includes some states with a large number of public schools such as California, Texas, and Florida.
Pennsylvania has the most 50-50 schools with 73 institutions, 44 private and 29 public. New York is second with 48 colleges followed by Massachusetts with 33. California and Ohio round out the top five with 30 and 27 each respectively making the list.
While Pennsylvania usually leads in the number of 50-50 schools, this year’s jump in public schools has to do with how it reported graduation rates. Rather than list individual graduate rates for each of the campuses in the Penn State system, it’s using just one rate, presumably that of the flagship campus. This information may change with additional reporting, but until then, all the Penn State campuses qualify as 50-50 schools which has not been the case in the past.
If you go by regions, the Mid East, which includes Pennsylvania and New York has the most 50- 50 schools with 153. The Great Lakes Region is next with 106 and the Southeast ranks third with 90.
Of the 52 schools that dropped from the list, all but 11 were because of a decrease in graduation rates. I added another 87 colleges that didn’t make the list last year.
Types of 50-50 Colleges
The various Carnegie Classification types of schools are generally well represented among the 50-50 schools. The largest group is the Masters level with 223 in the Masters categories. There are 182 in the Doctoral/Professional Universities categories with 64 falling into the high research activity group. The 146 Bachelor colleges includes 101 Liberal Arts Colleges and ten of those are public institutions.
Among this year’s 50-50 colleges, at least 48 offer full-ride scholarships. A total of 36 are offering at least 10 or more National Merit Scholarships with three offering more than 100. There are 41 schools where the average ACT score is in the 90th percentile or higher and 23 where the average SAT was in the 90th percentile or higher.
More Small Colleges than Larger Ones
There are a lot more smaller 50-50 colleges than larger ones. Over two thirds have 5,000 or fewer full-time undergraduates. Just under half are in the smallest category. The category with the lowest representation is the “Goldilocks” group.
This isn’t surprising since the same is true of colleges in general. I’ve brought this up before, if you want more college choices, you need to consider smaller schools. (The grand total doesn’t match 561 because the Penn State Campuses are not reporting individual counts of students. Yet, they are reporting graduation rates.)
Furthermore, if you want more affordable college choices, you should consider smaller schools. Among private 50-50 colleges, the smaller the school, the lower the average net cost.
The fact is that supply and demand exists in higher education. There are more smaller schools and they are less popular so they offer discounts.
Given the predominance of smaller schools, it’s not surprising that the NCAA D3 category accounts for the largest number of 50-50 schools offering athletics. NCAA D1 schools (all categories) is the next largest group with 170 schools. There are only 76 50-50 schools in NCAA Division II. You can find 39 50-50 schools in the NAIA and another 11 in other athletic organizations.
Something else to keep in mind, at least 169 of the 50-50 schools are free to apply to and 40 offer some sort of tuition guarantee plan. Furthermore, 50% or more of freshman without need receive merit aid at over 200 of the schools.
The complete 50-50 listing includes, size, graduation and acceptance rates, test scores, average net price, total costs, and athletic division. You can get the information on all colleges in the DIY College Rankings Spreadsheet.