25, No. 13, Jan. 19, 2006
Urbana campus ranked a ‘best
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
Values in Public Colleges 2006
Rankings for in-state students
1. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2. University of Florida
3. University of Virginia
4. The College of William and Mary
5. New College of Florida
6. University of Georgia
7. State University of New York at Geneseo
8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
9. State University of New York at Binghamton
10 University of Washington
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, February
The UI’s Urbana-Champaign
campus is one of the nation’s top 10 “best values”
among America’s public colleges and universities, according to
the most recent analysis by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.
Kiplinger’s periodic 100
Best Values in Public Colleges survey examines four-year public
schools with broad-based curricula, rating them based on a combination
of educational quality, attendance costs and the availability of financial
aid programs. The list is culled to 100 institutions that provide top-quality
education at affordable rates. The 2006 rankings appear in the magazine’s
February issue, which hit the newsstands Jan. 10.
The Urbana campus, which was ranked the eighth best value in public
higher education again this year, consistently has ranked among the
top 10 public institutions since Kiplinger’s began conducting
the surveys in 1998. Illinois was ranked fourth. in the inaugural survey,
fell to ninth in the 2000 survey, but moved up a notch to eighth in
the 2002 and 2003 rankings.
“We’re pleased that Kiplinger has recognized our efforts
to ensure that the citizens of Illinois have affordable access to a
world-class university,” said Keith Marshall, associate provost.
“It is rewarding to see that we have succeeded in our efforts
to continue ensuring that students get a high-quality education despite
substantial budget cuts in recent years.”
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill topped the 2006 rankings,
as it has during each of the five surveys to date, followed by the University
of Florida and the University of Virginia.
As a best value for out-of-state students, the Urbana campus ranked
14th in the 2006 survey, with the State University of New York College’s
Geneseo and Binghamton campuses ranked at first and second place, respectively,
followed by UNC Chapel Hill.
Kiplinger’s analyzed data for the 2005-06 academic year that more
than 500 public colleges and universities provided to Thomson Peterson,
a provider of educational materials and information on educational institutions,
and supplemented the data with its own reporting.
Academic quality was the primary criterion, comprising about two-thirds
of institutions’ total scores, and was determined by a combination
of factors that included freshman performance on the SAT or ACT, admission
rates, freshman retention rates, four-year and six-year graduation rates
and student-faculty ratios.
To evaluate affordability, Kiplinger’s looked at total costs for
in-state and out-of-state students and students with and without financial
need; the percentage of students’ costs met by need-based assistance;
and the average debt incurred by students prior to graduation.
Budget crises in many states and dwindling appropriations for higher
education have pushed average tuition and fees at four-year public schools
up by 57 percent during the past five years, and have forced many schools
to slash financial aid programs, by as much as 20 to 40 percent at some
institutions, the report said.
Meanwhile, tuition at four-year public schools for the 2005-06 academic
year rose 7.1 percent to an average of $5,491, still a bargain in comparison
with the $21,235 average tuition at four-year private schools, according
to the College Board.
Kiplinger’s lauded top-ranked UNC for expanding its financial
aid programs in 2005, creating 59 merit scholarships by devoting approximately
$3.5 million a year in trademark licensing revenue to financial aid.
UNC also broadened its Carolina Covenant aid program, which guarantees
to meet 100 percent of the financial need for freshmen whose family
incomes are at 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level, to
freshmen from any state.
“Creative financing” mechanisms such as private fundraisers
and lottery-ticket revenue also helped other top-rated institutions
on Kiplinger’s list contain costs and bolster financial aid programs
for their students.