From: Jeanne Krier, Publicist for The Princeton Review “Best Value Colleges 2021”
For college shoppers in sticker shock, here’s a jaw-dropping figure: $30,012.
Ok, that’s not tuition (though it could be at plenty of colleges).
It’s the average grant … (Grant, not loan. And average) … that colleges on The Princeton Review‘s just-reported list, “Best Value Colleges for 2021,” doled out last year to their students needing financial aid.
Another jaw-dropping stat: Nearly half (42%) of the “Best Value Colleges 2021” admit more than 50% of their applicants.
The Best Value Colleges project, which The Princeton Review education services company debuted in 2004, annually names the colleges that receive the highest ROI (Return on Investment) ratings.
These ratings are based on analyses that review more than 40 data points. They cover academic offerings, cost/financial aid, career placement services, graduation rates, and student debt as well as alumni salary levels and job satisfaction.
Of more than 650 schools The Princeton Review surveyed for this year’s project, 209 made the overall Best Value Colleges list for 2021. The list, which is not ranked, includes nine tuition-free schools.
For this project, The Princeton Review also reports seven sub-categories of Best Value Colleges lists. These lists, which are ranked, reveal the top public and the top private schools for each category.
The University of California—Berkeley earned the #1 spot on the list of Top 50 Public Best Value Colleges, and Princeton University was #1 on the list of Top 50 Private Best Value Colleges. Both schools are standouts for their stellar academics, career services, and financial aid. The average scholarship grant the University of California—Berkeley awarded to undergrads with need last year was $23,700, bringing the cost of attendance for those students down to $7,700 from the sticker price of $31,400. The average grant Princeton University awarded to undergrads with need last year was $53,500, reducing their cost of attendance to $12,300 from the sticker price of $65,800.
The project’s six additional ranking lists report the Top 20 Public and the Top 20 Private Colleges in special categories. A summary of the seven ranking list categories and the #1 public and private schools on each list follows. All of the lists, as well as The Princeton Review’s in-depth profiles of the schools, are posted here, where people can view them for free with site registration.
“The colleges that we designate as our ‘Best Values’ this year are truly a select group: they comprise only about 1.2% of the four-year undergraduate institutions in the U.S.,” said Rob Franek, editor-in-chief of The Princeton Review. “These exceptional schools differ in many ways, yet they are alike in that all offer outstanding academics and excellent career services. As important to today’s college applicants and their parents: These colleges have a comparatively low sticker price and/or generous financial aid offerings. We recommend and commend them highly for everything their administrators, faculties, staff, and alumni are doing to educate their students and to guide them to post-college success.”
The Princeton Review 2021 Best Value Colleges ranking categories, and the #1 public and #1 private schools on the lists are:
- Best Value Colleges — #1 Public: University of California—Berkeley / #1 Private: Princeton University (NJ)
- Best Value Colleges for Financial Aid — #1 Public: University of Virginia / #1 Private: Vassar College (NY)
- Best Value Colleges for Career Placement — #1 Public: Georgia Institute of Technology / #1 Private: Harvey Mudd College (CA)
- Best Value Colleges for Internships — #1 Public: William & Mary (VA) / #1 Private: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (NY)
- Best Value Colleges for Alumni Network — #1 Public: Pennsylvania State University / #1 Private: Wabash College (IN)
- Best Value Colleges for Making an Impact — #1 Public: William & Mary (VA) / #1 Private: Mount Holyoke College (MA)
- Best Value Colleges for Students with No Demonstrated Need — #1 Public: University of California—Berkeley / #1 Private: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Interesting Facts About Schools on The Princeton Review‘s 2021 Best Value Colleges Lists
Among the schools on the Top 50 Public Best Value Colleges list:
- The average grant to students with need is $13,700.
- The median starting salary of graduates is $59,500.
- The mid-career salary of graduates is $109,700.
Among the schools on the Top 50 Private Best Value Colleges list:
- The average grant to students with need is $48,200.
- The median starting salary of graduates is $68,500.
- The mid-career salary of graduates is $129,900.
Among the 209 schools on the overall Best Value Colleges list:
- Nearly half (42%) admit 50% or more of their applicants. The admission rates among the colleges last year ranged from 4% (Stanford University) to 84% (Missouri University of Science and Technology).
For this project, The Princeton Review analyzed data from its surveys of administrators at more than 650 colleges in 2019–20 as well as its surveys of students attending the schools. The company also factored in data from PayScale.com surveys of alumni of the schools about their starting and mid-career salaries as well as their job satisfaction. More information on the project methodology, the criteria for the company’s ROI rating, and the basis for each ranking list may be found at https://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/best-value-colleges/methodology.
Franek offered additional perspective on the company’s selection of its Best Value Colleges and its rankings list categories:
“Paying for college was a daunting challenge for students and parents 17 years ago when we debuted our Best Value Colleges project. It has become ever more challenging in the years since. This year, findings of our February 2021 College Hopes & Worries Survey revealed concerns about college affordability that moved us to modify our criteria for our Best Value Colleges 2021 list.
“Among our 2021 survey respondents—more than 14,000 college applicants and parents of applicants—82% told us financial aid would be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ necessary to pay for college, and 89% said the pandemic had affected their perspectives about their college applications. Among those who said the pandemic had affected their decisions about which colleges they were considering, the majority (54%), said they were applying to schools with lower sticker prices, and 32% said they were applying to schools closer to home. Appreciating those concerns, we reconfigured our Best Value Colleges project criteria to include more public colleges on our list. We also expanded our ranking lists to name the top public and the top private colleges in each list category.
“The finding of our College Hopes & Worries Survey that was most meaningful to us, and especially compelling during this pandemic, was the opinion expressed by 99% of our respondents that ‘college is worth it.’ It was an encouraging validation of the value of the ROI ‘schoolwork’ we do to compile our lists. We agree: College is worth it. In our opinion, these colleges—our Best Values for 2021—are well worth it.”