Pomona College has been named “Best Value” among liberal arts colleges by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine in its December edition, which will be released on Nov. 8. This is the third time in four years that Pomona College has earned such a distinction.
In its feature, Kiplinger especially lauded Pomona’s ability to recover from its economic setbacks due to the Great Recession. “Three years later, Pomona has rebounded with a recovering endowment, replenished donations and two state-of-the art residence halls,” the magazine read. “A campaign to fund the arts facilities, delayed for a year, is back on track.”
“And the academic quality and plentiful financial aid that has twice before made Pomona our top-ranked college puts it at the top again,” it added.
In general, Pomona students seemed to be satisfied with its financial aid program.
“I think the Office of Financial Aid has been very accurate in gauging my family’s need when I applied, and very nice when I appealed,” said Ben Shand PO ’14, a financial aid recipient. “I fall into a bracket of people who won’t get as much financial aid at other colleges because my family is middle class, but I think it’s great that Pomona recognizes that there are varying economic levels, not just the very top or the very bottom. I think it’s awesome that I won’t have loans coming out of college.”
Seth Allen, newly appointed Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Pomona College, highlighted the importance of a strong financial aid program to attracting the best possible applicant pool.
“Maintaining a strong financial aid program allows Pomona to remain true to a long-held value of admitting the very best students into the college, regardless of their families’ ability to fund their education,” Allen wrote in an e-mail to TSL.
Miriam Feldblum, Vice President and Dean of Students at Pomona College, also emphasized the college’s commitment to affordability and financial aid.
“The key is that Pomona hasn’t cut back on financial aid. We’ve reallocated resources, seeing what is most important,” she said. “We try to be mindful about the economy and the great financial pressures that families must face, which is also why we have not increased tuition in a substantive way.”
Although Pomona’s financial aid program is very strong, some students, even those on financial aid, expressed doubts about whether Pomona is deserving of the “Best Value” distinction.
“I’m not sure that Pomona is the best value college,” said one junior who wished to remain anonymous. “To be honest, I could’ve gone to a state school for one-fifth of the cost and ended up with more than one-fifth of the knowledge. But just because something is the best value doesn’t mean you buy it—some people still go for the best product, despite the cost.”
Students at Pomona generally agreed that Pomona College offerred them a quality education. Gillian Grindstaff PO ’14 said she finds the academics and the social atmosphere of Pomona the two most rewarding aspects of her college experience.
“Pomona does try to provide as much as it can to maximize our learning experience,” Grindstaff said. “Pomona hires professors that want to teach us and know how to teach us. There are so many opportunities for research and collaboration, even if your previous experience in the field is limited.”
“And everyone is really friendly and open to new ideas,” she added.
Each of the 5Cs made Kiplinger’s top 50 Best Value list. Claremont McKenna College (CMC) was ranked #18, with Scripps College at #24, Harvey Mudd College (HMC) at #26, and Pitzer College at #50.