Education July 11, 2017: Princeton University again best ROI topping MONEY’s Best Colleges for Your Money 2017

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EDUCATION

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Princeton University is again MONEY’s top school in their annual Best Colleges for your Money for 2017, proving the Ivy League school also has a good Return on Investment for their graduates. Wikipedia Commons

If high school seniors and their parents are looking for the best return on investment in choosing a college MONEY Magazine just named Princeton University the best value for the buck among Americans colleges. Princeton was also MONEY’s top school last year. Time’s MONEY Magazine released on Monday, July 10, 2017, their annual Best Colleges for your Money for 2017. MONEY’s rankings differ from the majority of university rankings that are published each year in that factor in costs and ROI as some of the most important factors leading to a far more diverse top ten than any other ranking, filled with the Ivy League, private and public colleges and universities dubbed by MONEY as the “Paycheck League.” MONEY, PayScale and Kiplinger’s release annual rankings focusing on value and ROI all have diverse universities in the top spots. These rankings aim to give students a different perspective on the financial and investment aspects than the majority of rankings that focus just on academics and reputation.

This year’s top ten saw a major shake-up from 2016 with the exception of the top spot belonging to Princeton. Many of the schools have dropped out completely from the top 10, while others moved up or down drastically. This year’s number two the City University of New York, Bernard M. Baruch College catapulted to the top ten replacing the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who moves down to third place. In fourth place is the University of California at Berkeley, who moved up one after tying for fifth place last year. Last year’s fourth place school Rice University moves out of the top ten to 12th place.

This year two schools vie for fifth place the University of California at Los Angeles and Stanford University. UCLA is a new arrival to the top ten moving up 15 from number 20, while the country’s most selective college Stanford University moves up five from the tenth spot. Last year Brigham Young University, Provo tied for fifth with Berkley, this year it drops from the top ten drastically to number 105. The University of California at Irvine moves up to take seventh place from number 16 last year. Last year’s number seven Amherst College moves down over 20 spots to number 28.

In the eighth position is QS World University Ranking leader Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) moving into the top ten from 11th place in 2016. Last year’s eighth-place the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art tumbled this year not only out of the top ten but out of the top 100 to number 124. At number nine is the University of California at Davis the third University of California system school featured in the top ten. UC Davis moves up from number 17. Last year’s ninth place school, the University of Virginia — Main Campus moved down to number 11. Harvard University, one of the most coveted of the Ivy League world and national leader sees one of its lowest rankings on MONEY’s list falling from third to tenth place.

MONEY ranking is the most well known, PayScale and Kiplinger’s also release rankings focusing on value and ROI all have a different mix of colleges at the top of their list than other rankings. Ann Rossbach, president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association explained why this type of ranking is important. Rossbach told MONEY, “Families are really looking for, return on investment. They want to know the real numbers.” The top school on MONEY’s list are coined “the Paycheck League” by the magazine, “Nowadays, bragging rights are going to colleges in what we’ll dub the “Paycheck League”-schools that the real numbers show to provide a boost in the job market.”

For their methodology MONEY examined 711 colleges, up six from 2016. The magazine looks at 27 indicators that compromise three major areas that “measure educational quality, affordability, and alumni success.” The 711 colleges had to meet certain criteria, have a minimum of 500 students, data to analyze, not be in “financial distress,” have to have a median graduation rate or “valued added” rate. Under quality of education, there were minimum requirements, including a “six-year graduation rate, value-added graduation rate, peer quality, instructor quality” and minimum “financial troubles.”

Under affordability MONEY examined “Net price of a degree, debt, Student loan repayment and default risk, Value-added student loan repayment measures and Affordability for low-income students.” Under outcomes or alumni success looking at “graduates’ earnings, Earnings adjusted by majors, college scorecard 10-year earnings, estimated market value of alumni’s average job skills, value-added earnings, job meaning and socio-economic mobility index.” Socio-economic mobility index is a new indicator the magazine added this year. MONEY “used statistical techniques to turn all the data points into a single score and ranked the schools based on those scores.”

Other ROI rankings include PayScale who released their annual ROI Report: Best Value Colleges on May 3. PayScale had the United States Merchant Marine Academy as the top school followed by Harvey Mudd College in second and then MIT in third. In fourth place were SUNY Maritime College and Colorado School of Mines in coming in fifth place. As part of their methodology, PayScale examines the costs to attend the college and then the return how much a graduate will make in the 20 years after graduation.

Kiplinger’s released their Best College Values 2017 in December 2016 where Swarthmore College topped the list. Coming in second was Davidson College, third Princeton, fourth Duke University and rounding out the top five was Washington and Lee University. As Kiplinger’s points out their methodology revolves around their “definition of best value: a blend of academic quality and affordability.” Kiplinger’s defines their academic requirements as a “competitive admission rate, a high four-year graduation rate, and a low student-faculty ratio.” Affordability consists of “schools with a reasonable price tag, generous financial aid for students who qualify, and low student debt at graduation.” They also look at “future earnings data” determining the average salary for a graduate ten years after completing their degree.”

MONEY’s top ten Best Colleges for Your Money 2017

1. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (1)
Annual price without aid: $65,300
Annual price with aid: $19,300
Early career earnings: $67,600
2. City University of New York, Bernard M. Baruch College, New York, New York
Annual price without aid: $31,400
Annual price with aid: $9,800
Early career earnings: $51,600
3. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan (2)
Annual price without aid: $29,500
Annual price with aid: $17,000
Early career earnings: $61,200
4. University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California (5 tied)
Annual price without aid: $37,200
Annual price with aid: $17,900
Early career earnings: $62,100
5. University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Annual price without aid: $35,300
Annual price with aid: $14,900
Early career earnings: $53,300
5. Stanford University, Stanford, California (10)
Annual price without aid: $68,100
Annual price with aid: $20,800
Early career earnings: $70,300
7. University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California (16)
Annual price without aid: $33,900
Annual price with aid: $15,800
Early career earnings: $52,000
8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts (11)
Annual price without aid: $67,800
Annual price with aid: $23,400
Early career earnings: $77,000
9. University of California at Davis, Davis, California (17)
Annual price without aid: $36,300
Annual price with aid: $18,200
Early career earnings: $53,000
10. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (3)
Annual price without aid: $68,600
Annual price with aid: $17,000
Early career earnings: $65,000

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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