Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.76
Liaison Richard Johnson
Submission Date Oct. 13, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Rice University
PA-7: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.79 / 4.00 Alyssa Graham
Intern
Sustainability
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Does the institution have policies and programs to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:
Yes

A brief description of any policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students:

Rice University is a need-blind institution and committed to meeting 100 percent of its prospective student’s need. Thus, when students apply for financial aid, if they are eligible, Rice will provide 100 percent of the difference between the student’s estimated family contribution (EFC), and the cost of attending the University. Rice accomplishes this through a combination of grants, loans and Work-Study. For students whose family income is $50,000 or less, Rice covers the full cost of tuition and fees. Any students with family income of $80,000 or less are not required to take out loans as part of their financial aid package. Instead, students in this income bracket receive assistance in the form of grants, scholarships, and work-study covering 100 percent of their unmet need. The Work-Study program is an opportunity given to low-income students in order to minimize their cost of attendance. More specifically, federal Work-Study is a part-time employment program for students who have demonstrated financial need according to eligibility criteria set forth by the federal government. Students are limited to earning the dollar amount shown on their award letter. In August 2016, Rice expanded its undergraduate admissions and financial aid policy to encourage undocumented students to apply for admission and financial aid. Consistent with our need-blind admissions policy, Rice meets the full demonstrated need of undocumented students through institutionally funded scholarship awards. Also, in the 2016-17 admission cycle, 27% of all applicants were granted application fee waivers. Low income students are automatically granted the waiver without having to submit a request.


A brief description of any programs to equip the institution’s faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:
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A brief description of the institution’s programs to guide and prepare students and families from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

Notable programs that Rice offers to prepare students from low-income backgrounds for higher education are Project GRAD, QuestBridge, the Center for College Readiness, STEM community engagement, and O-Week (Orientation):

(1) Project GRAD: Initiated in 2001, Rice University's campus is one of the Houston sites for the Project GRAD Summer Academy. Project GRAD is a school-community collaborative in the Houston Independent School District to improve the instructional quality and culture of at-risk feeder systems of schools. The program serves 64 schools and over 44,000 economically disadvantaged children. The mission of Project GRAD's scholarship program is to increase the graduation and college attendance rates of disadvantaged inner-city students in Houston through summer institutes, teacher and staff training, strong parental involvement, and enhanced curricula. The Rice University Project GRAD Advanced Summer Mathematics Academy is a summer program designed to ensure the success of students in advanced mathematics courses, while exposing them to a selective university atmosphere.
Rice faculty and staff offer a three-week Advanced Mathematics Institute, Nanochemistry Institute, and Summer Business Institute during the summer to expose underserved minority students to diverse academic/career paths.
To further help support the high school students’ transition to college and put them on footing with more advantaged peers, Rice offers its resources—pioneering research faculty, state-of-the art laboratories and science institutes, and innovative educational and support programs—to the Project GRAD College Institutes.

(2) QuestBridge: Rice University is a partner college of QuestBridge, a powerful platform bridging the nation's brightest, under-served youth and leading institutions of higher education and further opportunities. QuestBridge provides a single, internet-based meeting point which links exceptional students with colleges, scholarship providers, enrichment programs employers, and organizations seeking students who have excelled despite obstacles. As a partner of QuestBridge, Rice University aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the University. Specifically, QuestBridge offers the “College Prep Scholarship” which prepares low-income students for the college admissions process and equips them with practical knowledge on how to gain admission to the nation’s leading colleges and universities.

3) Since 1994, the nationally recognized Center for College Readiness (CCR) at Rice has worked with over 70,000 educators and students from 53 countries and all 50 states to increase students’ access to high quality college preparation. As an example, through the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) Initiative, the CCR worked with 13 districts and over 50 campuses, successfully increasing AP course enrollments by 19% and the number of AP test scores of 3, 4, and 5 by 33%.

4) The Office of STEM Engagement and the Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP) offer a range of teacher professional development programs that are student-centered and rooted in inquiry-based learning. The Office of STEM Engagement has served over 1,200 Houston area STEM teachers, providing training in content knowledge, pedagogy, leadership, and technology, as well as materials and resources for successful classroom implementation, with the ultimate goal of increasing student achievement and engagement in STEM.

5) Rice is well known for its orientation week, which has specific policies in place to fully include and culturally support low-income students. Upperclassmen serving as advisors are trained on the diverse backgrounds of members of each incoming class, including the background and particular challenges faced by low-income and first-generation students. Throughout the week, all students wear t-shirts with their residential colleges’ names that are given to them the day they arrive on campus. This practice helps create a strong egalitarian and supportive community and prevents assumptions about students’ means based on their attire. O-Week staff and student advisors are also instructed to make sure no new students are asked to pay for anything during the week, no matter how seemingly incidental, so that all students can participate in all activities without worrying about costs. Recognizing that the transition of parents is important to the successful transition of students, Rice invites families to participate in a New Families Orientation. Family influence can be particularly strong for first-generation and low-income students, and the university environment may be unfamiliar to them or their parents, so our family programming includes sessions devoted to these constituents.


A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

As previously mentioned, Rice is committed to meeting 100 percent of its prospective student’s financial need. Thus, Rice awards need-based awards to all students who demonstrate this need. Rice accomplishes this through a combination of grants, loans and Work-Study. The following are just a few of the types of scholarship aid that the university provides for low-income students who demonstrate financial need:

Grants:
(1) Rice Tuition Grant: funding awarded to students with unmet institutional need-based financial aid eligibility after the awards below have been added. Rice ensures that a student's unmet financial need is entirely covered through various financial aid types.

(2) Federal or State Grants: grants that are provided by the federal or state governments based on a student’s demonstrated financial need. For example:
(a) Pell Grants: For the 2014-2015 aid year, undergraduate students with a federal Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $5157 or less may be eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant. The amount of each grant is determined by the student's EFC. These funds are provided by the federal government and are available to you as long as you qualify.
(b) Tuition Equalization Grants (TEGs): Students from Texas may qualify for a Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG). These funds are limited and are awarded to undergraduate students with the highest need on a first-come, first-served basis.

Loans:
(1) The Direct Subsidized Loan: A need-based loan with a fixed interest rate. The government pays the interest subsidy while the student is enrolled at least half-time. Repayment begins after the 6-month grace period when the student graduates, withdraws, or drops below half-time enrollment.

(2) Federal Perkins Loan: The Federal Perkins loan is a campus-based federally subsidized loan program awarded to students with exceptional need who are enrolled at least half-time.


A brief description of the institution’s targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

Rice participates in a number of targeted outreach initiatives to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:
(1) VISION: VISION is a program in which students who are academically talented and ethnically diverse explore the opportunities available at Rice. Many of these students are often low-income, and are selectively chosen to experience Rice firsthand. These students attend classes, meet professors, tour campus facilities, and have dinner with Rice faculty and alumni.

(2) Seeking Opportunities at Rice (S.O.A.R): S.O.A.R is a fly-in program hosted by the Office of Admission. S.O.A.R. is an invitation-only program offered to a select number of prospective students. During the program, students will gain insight into Rice through a variety of activities, including staying on campus with current students, attending the Explore Rice prospective student event, attending classes, and interacting with faculty and staff across campus. Rice works with community based organizations such as “A Better Chance” and “QuestBridge” to compile a list of prospective students to invite to attend S.O.A.R. In doing so, Rice ensures that they are targeting students from low-income backgrounds.

3) Rice’s Institute for Biosciences and Bioengineering’s (IBB) Girls STEM Initiative partners with HISD’s Cesar Chavez High School (87 percent economically disadvantaged) to provide STEM preparation and mentoring for its low-income female students from freshman year through the college application process. Every female in the 2013 inaugural class graduated from high school and enrolled in college (compared to the 37% college enrollment rate of their high school’s graduates).

4) Rice is collaborating with EMERGE Fellowship, which prepares talented, low-income high school students from Houston ISD and Spring Branch ISD (900 students across 46 high schools) to successfully attend and graduate from top-tier colleges. For example, Rice and EMERGE partner on a mock interview day, where 300 high school sophomores and juniors receive training for college interviews. Between 2014 and 2016, 98% of Emerge Fellows were accepted to a top-100 college or university and received financial aid awards totaling $55 million. In the 2017-18 school year, 630 EMERGE students will be enrolled in a top-100 institution.

5) The Office of STEM Engagement and faculty members in eight departments partnered with Houston-area community colleges in 2010 to establish summer Research Experience for Undergraduates programs that enable low-income community college students to work in labs with Rice faculty for 10 weeks. Sixty-seven community college students have participated to date, and the number of applicants is growing each year (~70/year). These programs not only enhance learning through research experiences – a proven method to increase postsecondary retention and success – but also help students gain the confidence and self-efficacy to apply to transfer to Rice and other four-year institutions and pursue graduate education.

6) We have partnered for many years with College Board to deepen the economic diversity of our applicant pool. The College Board identifies and sends contact information to Rice for low-income and first-generation students. Rice contacts and encourages these students to apply, waives application fees, and sends them information on Rice’s generous financial aid packages to demonstrate Rice’s affordability regardless of family income.


A brief description of the institution’s other policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

1) The Office of Student Success Initiatives (SSI) offers a suite of integrated programs, including the Rice Emerging Scholars Program (RESP), which employ an innovative advising model to ensure personalized attention to the particular needs of low-income and first-generation students.

2) In December 2016, Rice became a founding member of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of 30 leading colleges and universities committed to making quality educational opportunities available to students from low-income families.

3) Through OpenStax, Rice has become the leading developer of free and nominal cost
digital textbooks for high school AP and college courses. This suite of open, online textbooks has been adopted by over 6,000 instructors from community colleges to the Ivy League, and has saved over 1.5 million students $160 million to date. These textbooks, coupled with support for high school teachers, have also made critical science classes available in low resource high schools.

4) In 2016, Rice launched a web-based networking tool, the SallyPortal, where alumni and students connect for internships and career advice and opportunities. The SallyPortal was designed, in part, to redress the social capital deficits that may impede low-income students’ ability to access and navigate extra-curricular opportunities and build professional networks.

5) The Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC), in Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, is a partnership between Rice and HISD that brings together education researchers and education decision makers. HERC works with HISD to evaluate and form strategies surrounding the district’s most innovative programs, with the aim of facilitating data-driven decisions that better serve Houston students and close the socioeconomic gaps in achievement. Rice is also leading the National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP), which supports partnerships between education agencies and research institutions to improve the connection among research, policy, and practice.


Does the institution have policies and programs to support non-traditional students?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s scholarships provided specifically for part-time students:

Financial aid is still available for part-time students if they are taking more than 6 credit hours. The financial aid is prorated to reflect the student's reduced enrollment.


A brief description of the institution’s on-site child care facility, partnership with a local facility, and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students:

(1) Rice Children’s Campus: Operated by the Center for Early Childhood Education, the Rice Children’s Campus is one of Houston’s premier early learning facilities serving the children of Rice University faculty, staff and students, age birth through five. Located on the west end of Rice University Campus, the Children’s Campus is committed to providing the best possible educational experiences for the children in its care and offers a rich curriculum grounded in the work of Maria Montessori.

(2) YMCA-Texas Medical Center: Rice community members who are benefits-eligible faculty, benefits-eligible staff, graduate students, or undergraduate students will have no child care application fees, and Rice has five child care slots reserved at the center.
Just let the YMCA staff know that you are a Rice community member, and the application fee should be waived.


A brief description of the institution’s other policies and programs to support non-traditional students:

1) Rice's individualized, holistic admission review process examines each applicant’s academic prowess, creativity, motivation, unique talents, leadership potential, and life experiences. Admission decisions are need-blind for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, DACA students and undocumented students who have lived in the U.S. for an extended period of time. Rice also offers a fee waiver for applications for students based on fee waivers for the SAT or ACT, eligibility for the federal school lunch program, or a letter from a school counselor. All of these measures help nontraditional students to have more equal opportunities.

2) For families needing help meeting their calculated family contribution, Rice offers a payment plan that allows families to pay in installments, as well as a federal parent loan program (PLUS), which allows parents to borrow low-interest loans.

3) Rice assesses a student's financial situation and family situation each year, including a family's income or assets, the number of children enrolled in an undergraduate program, and the amount of merit aid the student receives, so that students that may face special family circumstances affecting their educational goals (nontraditional students) receive the proper aid they need each year, regardless of changing situations.

4) Furthermore, an Appeals Committee reviews Special Circumstances for nontraditional students based on the documentation you are able to provide. This review only affects the current aid year, and file reviews are carried out under the guidance of the Office of Financial Aid's upper administration.

5) For summer terms, any students who have remaining loan eligibility, including nontraditional students, may be able to borrow funds to meet their summer educational costs.


Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (tracking accessibility and affordability)? (If data is not available, select 'No'):
Yes

The percentage of entering students that are low-income (0-100):
16

The graduation/success rate for low-income students (0-100):
90.10

On average, the percentage of need that was met for students who were awarded any need-based aid (e.g. as reported to the U.S. Common Data Set initiative, item H2) (0-100):
100

The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt or for whom no out-of-pocket tuition is required (i.e. the percentage of graduates who have not taken out interest-bearing loans) (0-100):
73

Estimated percentage of students that participate in or directly benefit from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students (0-100):
100

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The percentage of entering students that are low-income (receiving Pell Grant): 16% for 14-15
The graduation/success rate for low-income students: 91% for the 2007 FTFT graduating within 6 years
The percentage of student financial need met, on average: 72%, this reflects an average need based packaged ($41,888) divided by the Cost of Attendance ($58,253) for 16-17
The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt: 73% according to the Rice University Common Data Set for 2016-2017. 27% borrowed during their time at Rice.

Common Data Set 2016-2017: http://oir.rice.edu/uploadedFiles/Office_of_Institutional_Research/Content/Common_Data_Set/3.%20CDS_2016-2017_WEBSITE(1).pdf

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.