Methodology

TO CREATE OUR list of colleges, we began with a list of nonprofit institutions in Oregon and Washington that had been independently accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. To pare down the list, we excluded community colleges and city colleges, trade schools, schools that issued fewer than 100 bachelor’s degrees in 2004, and those colleges that were not four-year institutions.

We then polled each school for information in 16 different categories, including average SAT scores and GPAs of incoming freshmen, tuition rates, the average financial aid package each provides, the percentage of federal work-study funds that go to community service opportunities for students (allowing undergraduates to earn financial aid by doing things like tutoring instead of serving food in the cafeteria), and alumni giving rates (which can indicate students’ satisfaction with their alma mater).

Most numbers were reported by the schools, but in cases where the school was unable to provide information, we consulted US News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges 2009 (colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/college) or the National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator). These exceptions are noted in the chart.

While most schools reported data based on fall 2008 enrollment figures, in some cases only information from the 2007-08 academic year was available. This too was noted in the chart. Supplementary information obtained from US News & World Report primarily reflects fall 2007 enrollment figures; NCES figures include data from the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years.