The Princeton Review Has Released Its “Best Value Colleges” Book and Rankings in 7 categories for 2019
The Best Value Colleges: 200 Schools with Exceptional ROI for Your Tuition Investment (Penguin Random House / Princeton Review Books, $22.99, published January 29, 2019).
This annual book and its seven ranking lists (which focus on different aspects of financial aid and career preparation) is The Princeton Review’s guide for college shoppers seeking affordable, academically outstanding colleges that stand out for their success at guiding students to rewarding careers.
The Princeton Review has posted the book’s ranking lists (highlights are below) at https://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/best-value-colleges. The education services company also posted information on its survey for this project, its methodology, and its ROI (Return on Investment) ratings. (All of this info is free on their website, but you have to answer some questions and create an account to access it.)
The Princeton Review chose 200 schools based on a comprehensive analysis of data from its surveys of administrators at more than 650 colleges in 2017-18. Survey topics broadly covered academics, cost, financial aid, career services, graduation rates, student debt, and alumni support.
The education services company also factored in data from its surveys of students attending the colleges and PayScale.com surveys of alumni of the schools about their starting and mid-career salaries and job satisfaction. In all, The Princeton Review staff crunched more than 40+ data points to select the 200 schools for the book and tally its ranking lists.
“Only 7% of the nation’s four-year colleges made it into this book,” noted Robert Franek, its lead author and The Princeton Review’s Editor-in-Chief. “We salute them for their stellar academics and generous aid awards to students based on need and/or merit. They also provide their undergrads with career services from day one plus strong networks of alumni connections.”
The Best Value Colleges has profiles of the 200 featured schools, plus a section recommending “Great Schools for the Highest Paying Majors” (48 majors are featured) as well as profiles of nine tuition-free colleges:
- United States Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO)
- United States Coast Guard Academy (New London, CT)
- Berea College (Berea, CT)
- United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD)
- College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, MO)
- Deep Springs College (Dyer, NV)
- Webb Institute (Glen Cove, NY)
- United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, NY)
- United States Military Academy (West Point, NY)
Homeschoolers should pay special attention to the tuition-free colleges because they are all homeschool-friendly. [NOTE: We have 15 tuition-free colleges on our list. -Ed.]
On the book’s main ranking list, “Top 50 Best Value Colleges,” California Institute of Technology took the #1 spot.
The book’s six additional ranking lists each feature 25 schools. The list categories and #1 schools on them are:
Best Financial Aid – #1 Bowdoin College (ME)
Best Career Placement – #1 Harvey Mudd College (CA)
Best Alumni Network – #1 Pennsylvania State University (PA)
Best Schools for Internships – #1 Bentley University (MA)
Best Schools for Making an Impact – #1 Wesleyan University (CT)
Top 25 Best Value Colleges for Students with No Demonstrated Need – #1 Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)
Exceptional Facts About the Schools in The Best Value Colleges 2019 Edition
Among the 200 colleges (137 private and 63 public) in the book:
- The average grant to students with need is $28,735 (That’s a grant, not a loan. And average.)
- The median starting salary of graduates is $59,531 and mid-career salary is $115,123.
Among the book’s 63 public colleges:
- The average net cost of attendance (sticker price minus average grant) for in-state students receiving need-based aid is $12,972
- The average admission rate is 54% and 13 colleges admit over 70%.
The Princeton Review’s first Best Value Colleges book debuted in 2004. It was inspired by findings of the company’s 2003 College Hopes & Worries Survey. That survey annually polls college applicants and their parents about their college “dream schools,” application experiences, concerns, and perspectives. From 2003 onward, concerns about college costs have consistently been high among the survey’s nearly 150,000 respondents.
Among the findings of the 2018 survey reported March 27, 2018: 98% of nearly 11,000 respondents said “financial aid would be necessary” for them to pay for college (65% of that cohort deemed aid “extremely necessary”). While education loan debt was a significant worry, 99% of respondents viewed college as “worth it” and a plurality considered the main benefit of a college degree to be “a potentially better job and higher income.” The 2019 survey findings will be reported in March of this year.