Trying to determine the best value and best fit for a college can be difficult to measure for families. Many factors go into making this decision and they involve both subjective and factual data. College Affordability LLC believes academics, financials and environmental fit are the cornerstone of the decision and need to be properly weighted in the college selection process. Compiling these factors can often be daunting for both students and families. In an effort to provide our readers with current, informative tools I am pleased to announce that Money has just announced a new college ranking for over 700 colleges.
Money Magazine has developed their own methodology that statistically analyzes the various colleges estimated cost along with data on the students’ likely earnings. The magazine also considered other criteria which they called an estimated “value add” of each college. Money magazine measured graduation rates, student loan default rates and post-graduation earnings.
Money has provided a ranking for over 700 colleges. Money used schools that had historical data. Those chosen needed to pass their quality and data test criteria. If a college/university is not on the list it is because it did not meet the criteria that Money used for their analysis. To be included in this college ranking a college needed to meet the following four items:
- Four-year college or university (Public or not-for-profit school)
- Institution had to have data available for assessment
- College or university needed be free of financial troubles (Moody’s) or not on the Depart of Education’s Heighted Cash Monitoring list
- Specific graduation rates at or above the median for the type of school (public/private). Considerations made if below median. Must have graduation rate at least 25% above what is expected given incomes and test scores of the students at school.
In determining the factors for their rankings Money considered quality of education, affordability, and outcome of the education. To get a better understanding of what each of these factors mean in the ranking of the college Money further broke down the factors into several subsets.
How is the quality of education determined? Money first considered the graduation rates of the college based on the number of students to graduate within six years. It then quantifies a value-added graduation rate. This means that an analysis was completed of a college in relation to economic background and academic preparation of its students compared to graduation rate. Quality of the education also includes data related to the peer quality of the school. The last indicator was the quality of the faculty in relation to both ratio and quality of teaching.
Affordability is high on the list for most families when picking a college. It is also one of the major factors Money used in their ranking system. The six indicators used to analysis the affordability of a college are as follows: net price of the degree, educational debt, ability to repay and affordability for low-and moderate-income families. The net price of the degree was not for a single year but calculated by taking the school’s average graduation rate and adding in an inflation factor into the net price. This is where graduation rate at each school will be different depending on listed history.
The outcome of a college education has many definitions and can be viewed differently by graduates. For the purpose of their ranking Money has used nine different indicators to rank this category. The categories include college career services, post-graduate earning power, earning value of early-career, mid-career earnings and value-added mid-career earnings. An interesting analysis in the career services rates how many counselors are available at each of the colleges to help college students. Visiting and using the career center early in college is so important for the college student. Knowing that your specific college may not have a lot of staff to help you in the process may require the student to be even more proactive in getting the information needed to find a major and career. This part of the analysis also looks at whether the college has a formal alumni program in relation to the current job-seeking student. This is great information for a student to have available especially for peer mentoring and job contacts.
For more details on how the data was analyzed please visit the Money site and read the full article released on July 13, 2015. It is titled How Money Ranked Colleges: An In-Depth Look at Our Methodology. Making the college decision can be difficult but with useful tools a family can become informed consumers and find college value and affordability. Have fun with this ranking system and see how the schools on your college list perform.