Wednesday, September 10, 2014

KY's Murray State 18th in Nation for Best College Value

Centre College may rank 45th in the nation according to the status-above-all U.S. News college rankings, but if you want to know which colleges in Kentucky offer the best value for the money, check out the Washington Monthly, where Centre does not even make the list but Murray State University ranks 18th in the nation.

So, for those who don’t want to wait (or bet) on Washington, we offer our second annual Best Bang for the Buck ranking—our exclusive list of the colleges in America that do the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices. Out of the 1,540 colleges and universities in our broader rankings, only 386 made the cut as Best Bang for the Buck schools. You can see the top 100 starting on page 26 and the rest on our website at

To get on our list, colleges had to meet four criteria in the most recent year. First, to make sure they aren’t just catering to the affluent, at least 20 percent of their students must be receiving Pell Grants, which go to students of modest means (typically those with annual household incomes below $50,000). Second, they must have a graduation rate of at least 50 percent—hardly an exacting standard, but a fair one considering that we’re requiring that a fifth of their student body have lower incomes, a demographic that tends to graduate in lower numbers. Third, each school’s actual graduation rate must meet or exceed the rate that would be statistically predicted for that school given the number of lower-income students admitted (among other things, this calculation assures that schools with more than the minimum 20 percent of Pell students aren’t penalized). Fourth, to make sure their graduates are earning enough in the workforce to at least cover their student loans, schools must have a student loan default rate of 10 percent or less.

Once we compiled the list, we applied the “buck” part of the measure by ranking the schools based on their net price of attendance. (Net price is the average tuition that first-time, full-time students from families with an annual income of $75,000 or less actually pay after subtracting the need-based financial aid they receive.)
Transy was the second Kentucky college on the Best Bang for the Buck list at 150, followed by Asbury at 297 and Bellarmine at 306. No other post-secondary institution, public or private, in Kentucky cracked the list of 386.

Please note that Transy, Asbury and Bellarmine manage to provide high value despite being private colleges.  As the Monthly editors point out:
It’s worth pointing out—and giving kudos to—the relative handful of private institutions, including Amherst College and Brigham Young University-Idaho, that made the list. These schools go out of their way to recruit less-affluent students and keep the prices they charge to those students down.
 I'm looking at you, Centre.

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