Against the buffeting winds of increasing economic turbulence, Converse College’s national reputation as a “Best Buy” for providing an affordable, customized education remains a College priority.
On October 21, the South Carolina House of Representatives signed-off on a $488 million budget reduction plan which dramatically impacts South Carolina state-supported public colleges and universities as they prepare for $100 million in higher education budget cuts. At this time however, Converse’s academic and scholarship programs remain fully funded.
“Converse has long placed a premium on access and affordability,” said Converse president Betsy Fleming. “Our commitment to delivering value for price was nationally recognized when the most recent U.S. News and World Report again named the college among its elite Best Buys in its 2009 college rankings.”
With the 2009 rankings, Converse is the only South Carolina college listed among the top-five Best Value Master’s Universities (South), and the highest ranked women’s college in the category (Converse #4, Brenau University #10, Mary Baldwin College #15).
The added value of the total Converse experience as compared to its publicly-funded counterparts is notable.
• 63% of Converse students earn their degree within four years compared to 25% of the public college students in the state. This means that while the majority of public college students are paying for that fifth—and sometimes sixth—year of tuition, Converse graduates are already in the workforce earning a salary.
• 68% of Converse seniors either have a job or a graduate school acceptance upon graduation from Converse.
• Converse annually offers a variety of scholarship competitions in various categories including academics, athletics, creativity and visual and performing arts. In fall 2008, 97% of traditional undergrads received Converse Scholarships. The average dollar amount was $13,653.
Converse enjoys a close relationship with the South Carolina Student Loan organization and other providers to ensure accessibility to the Converse experience. “We have experienced a significant increase in loan volume as a result of the $2,000 annual unsubsidized Stafford Loan limit increase approved by Congress in May which led us to secure additional financing for the current year, and we are in the final stages of implementing the required mechanisms necessary to fund all Federal Stafford, PLUS, and Grad PLUS loans for the 2009-2010 academic year,” said Wayne Landrith of South Carolina Student Loan. “We are able to achieve this important objective due to our existing financing and the ability to utilize the U.S. Department of Education’s financing vehicle created by the Ensuring Continued access to Student Loans Act.”
Converse offers significant advantage in terms of quality of experience. In the 2007 findings from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), considered the most comprehensive assessment of effective practices in higher education, Converse students, as compared to their counterparts at other institutions, were twice as likely to rate their overall educational experience as “excellent,” twice as likely to discuss career plans with faculty, more than twice as likely to study abroad or attend a cultural event and more likely to have serious conversations with students of a different race or ethnicity. Converse freshmen also more highly rated the environment as one that allows them to “thrive socially.”&nb