California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) has been named to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s list of the top 100 best values in public colleges for 2011-12. The ranking recognizes four-year institutions that combine outstanding education with economic value.
CSULB appears at No. 98 on the list and is one of 12 California institutions to make the rankings. Three other CSU campuses were among the 100 – San Diego State (77), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (83) and Cal Poly Pomona (91). The other eight California schools were University of California campuses.
“We’re extremely pleased to once again be recognized by Kiplinger’s as one of the best value public colleges in the country,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “Access to higher education begins first and foremost with the ability to afford a college degree, and at Cal State Long Beach we continue to work to hold down costs to students wherever possible. However, if the state’s support of higher education continues to erode as it has in the last three years, access and affordability to the state’s colleges and universities will become more and more challenging for its residents.”
Alexander also noted that the Kiplinger ranking clearly shows students and their parents that the high price tag of many colleges and universities nationwide has little to do with the quality of the education experience being offered.
Selected from a pool of more than 500 public four-year colleges and universities, schools in the Kiplinger 100 were ranked according to academic quality, including SAT or ACT scores, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, and four- and six-year graduation rates, which most schools reported for the class that entered in 2004. The editors then rank each school based on cost and financial aid. Academic quality carries more weight than costs.
According to the magazine’s report, the total cost of private colleges has recently averaged almost $39,000 a year, more than twice the average annual in-state sticker price—roughly $17,000—at public schools. In fact, a third of the public schools on Kiplinger’s top-100 list charge about the same as or less than that average amount, an indication of the emphasis Kiplinger’s places on affordability.
Kiplinger’s assesses quality and affordability according to a number of measurable standards. This year, Kiplinger’s revamped the rankings to give more weight to academic value, such as the percentage of students who return for sophomore year and the four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include low sticker prices, abundant financial aid and low average debt at graduation. While the criteria have shifted, the overall focus on value remains the same.
“As states cut funding for higher education and tuition continues to climb, the word ‘value’ becomes more significant than ever,” said Jane Bennett Clark, senior editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. “This year’s top 100 public schools deliver strong academics at reasonable prices. We applaud these institutions for tightening their belts without compromising quality.”
Web visitors will find special interactive features including frequently asked questions about the public colleges ranking, a slideshow of the top 10 schools, and data sortable by criteria such as state, tuition cost, average debt, student/faculty ratio, and admission rate. Additionally, Kiplinger’s top-200-ranked private colleges and universities of 2011-12—announced in November 2011—are featured in a companion Best College Values report.