Kiplinger Ranking Prioritizes Affordability and Best Value

…and places UNC at Chapel Hill and Swarthmore College at the top of their 500 school list. The personal finance magazine assesses total cost per year, average financial aid, average debt at graduation, and median earnings 10 years post-graduation, among other criteria, to generate their overall rankings.
2019 Ranking: schools with the attached link (blue) overlap with the Fahey Associates curated college list.
Rank ↓ Institution Name State Total Annual Cost
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill NC $47,307 (out of state)
2 Swarthmore College PA $69,422
3 Yale University CT $70,570
4 Princeton University NJ $63,800
5 Washington and Lee University VA $68,330
6 Davidson College NC $66,819
7 Duke University NC $72,193
8 Haverford College PA $48,895
9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology MA $68,142
10 Hamilton College NY $69,490
11 Harvard University MA $68,580
12 Amherst College MA $72,166
13 Pomona College CA $70,496
14 Middlebury College VT $70,980
15 Wesleyan University CT $70,904
16 Vassar College NY $72,270
17 Bowdoin College ME $69,460
18 California Institute of Technology CA $69,210
19 Carleton College MN $69,697

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Best Bang for Your Buck Colleges (Highest ROI)

A new ranking by Washington Monthly offers a nuanced assessment of different colleges’ “Return on Investment”. The study calculates a social mobility score comprised of many factors including schools’ net price after aid, median earnings 10 years after initial enrollment, and loan repayment rate. The rankings are broken down by region of the US; thus, the Ivy League, MIT, and CUNY Baruch College stand out amongst Northeast Schools, while Georgetown and Washington & Lee University are notable winners in the Southeast. For those interested in attending college in the American south, Texas public schools also have high scores.

U.S. Colleges that Provide the Highest ROI 2019

Note: "Net price" refers to the amount that first-time, full-time undergraduate students pay after aid, measured using IPEDS data. Complete Washington Weekly methodology can be found here.
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Claremont Colleges Consortium Boasts High Yields Among Liberal Arts Schools

Yield refers to the percentage of students admitted to an institution who choose to enroll. Colleges pride themselves on this metric as it demonstrates their value and reputation to high-caliber students. High yields are also financially valuable as they bring in more tuition money every year. Liberal arts schools saw a 42% increase in the number of applicants between 2007 and 2017, but yield is expected to drop with the coronavirus pandemic as students face financial or logistic roadblocks and are unable to attend college.  

Institutional Yield 2017

Source: The Chronicle
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College Costs Continue to Rise

…as public universities saw 2.5% increases in tuition and room and board between 2018-19 and 2019-20, and private non-profit four-year colleges saw a 3.3% increase. Public universities remain significantly cheaper than private non-profit four-year colleges, charging almost $22,000 for tuition, room, and board for in-state students and $38,330 for out-of-state students. Private colleges averaged $49,870 per year in 2019-20. It is yet to be seen how colleges will respond to the financial effects of the novel coronavirus, but as of the spring semester, the majority of colleges charged full tuition, claiming they cannot afford a massive cost reduction.

Total Cost (Tuition + Fees + Room/Board) in 2019 Dollars

Data: All data is from the College Board's annual Trends in College Pricing Report. "Private Nonprofit Four-Year" and "Public Four-Year In-State" figures are taken from the 2019 report and converted into 2019 dollars by the College Board. For "Public Four-Year Out-of-State" data, the author compiled sticker prices from previous College Board reports and converted to 2019 USD via an inflation calculator.
Note: Data unavailable for Public Four-Year Out-of-State costs before 1990.
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Improving Remote Learning for Fall 2020

The abrupt nationwide shift to remote learning in March has faced mixed reviews from both students and faculty. Students have grappled with technology issues, mental health concerns, and a dislike for the online format as most said they felt online classes were not as valuable as in-person courses. As 44.7% of colleges prepare to begin the 2020-2021 academic year either fully or partially online, a new survey conducted by the Chronicle outlines ways in which colleges can be more successful with online learning. Professors say their greatest need is more professional development in online pedagogy, with better education tools/training following closely behind. Administrators have responded with investment promises, with 70% of administrators stating they will invest in faculty training, and 38% planning to invest in technology for students. Additionally, colleges are planning to emphasize communication, flexibility, and consistency throughout the fall semester for improved online delivery. For the details, refer to Inside HigherEd’s survey.

What Faculty Members Need Most to Teach Online

Source: Inside Higher Ed
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International Students Contributed $41 billion to the US Economy

…as well as 458,290 jobs during the 2018-2019 academic year a new NAFSA report finds. Trump’s July 6th announcement of his intention to bar international college students from entering the country if their school went fully remote was met with swift outrage and backlash by both students and colleges. Along came a joint lawsuit launched by Harvard and MIT against the administration backed by over 200 colleges.

Although Trump had retracted the policy as of July 15, the threat of losing international students in American higher education remains as the country continues its steady 10% decline in international enrollment it has faced since 2016. This is largely due to international students’ disapproval of the current administrations’ harsh attitude and rhetoric around immigration, as well as financial concerns, uncertainty about employment in America post-graduation, and difficulties in the US visa process.

Compounded by the coronavirus, some estimates predict a further 25% decline in international enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year, which would have harsh consequences for American higher education. Financially, international students subsidize lower in-state tuition and financial aid for domestic students by typically paying full price for their college education. Losing international students will force colleges to raise tuition and cut programs, causing a positive feedback loop that will make it harder to attract these same students in the future.

The hardest hit will be colleges in the Midwest without global brand recognition, as well as graduate programs in which 50% of schools are reporting declines in international applicants. Besides colleges, local economies will feel the loss of the $41 billion that international students pumped into the United States last year. In addition to immediate financial repercussions, the US economy will lose jobs as 1 in 4 billion-dollar startups are founded by former international students. Highly technical or STEM-related jobs are also often filled by qualified international students, with 458,290 jobs filled by international students in 2019-2020. A loss of these students may push companies to relocate.

As the United States strides forward, colleges must get creative in order to compete with Canadian, Australian, and European universities that have begun to attract international students’ attention. Prioritizing diversity and foreign student enrollment will be critical not only for cultivating a diversity of thought on college campuses and aiming for academic excellence across borders but also for the financial health of higher education and continued innovation in the American economy.

  Economic Contributions of International Students by State

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University Presidents’ Compensation Outweighs Faculty Salaries 17 to 1

17 public universities and 64 private universities issued executive compensation over 1 million USD in 2017, with Pennsylvania State University rising to the top of the public sector and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and University of Pennsylvania’s presidents topping out the private sector. Of the highest-paid public and private university presidents, their compensation was 17 times greater than their faculty salaries on average, with a pay-to-tuition ratio of 96:1 on average. Long tenures account for a large part of the astronomical salaries, as many presidents agree to long-term deferred compensation agreements, which incentivize their continued commitment to their institutions. Critics argue that presidents should be compensated according to performance, not tenure, especially when funds for their salaries could be diverted towards faculty pay, pensions, or financial aid programs.

Highest Executive Compensation at U.S. Colleges 2017

Note: Numbers next to college names (i.e. (12x)) indicate the ratio of executive compensation to average faculty salary. For example, '12x' indicates that the school's executive receives a salary 12 times higher than that of their average faculty member.
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College Fit is Key to Completion of STEM Degrees

…as Malcolm Gladwell’s 2013 book David and Goliath finds that choosing a school where you excel may be more important than choosing a school for its elite status, especially for those interested in science. Largely based on a 1988 study by Strenata et. al, Gladwell’s book proposes that being in the bottom tertile academically may be a deterrent for continuing to pursue STEM due to the hierarchical nature of the discipline. Students often opt to change majors when “relative failure at the basic levels is not only discouraging but to some extent incapacitating for the next courses” (Strenata et. al 5 ). Gladwell then quotes a study by UCLA professor Mitchell Chang: “For every 10-point increase in the average SAT score of an entering cohort of freshmen at a given institution, the likelihood of retention decreases by two percentage points”. As shown in the chart, the likelihood of persistence towards a STEM degree is less correlated to a students’ Math SAT score than it is dependent upon their score relative to their peers.
Source: Rogers Elliott and Christopher Strenta — Data reported in David and Goliath — §3 "Caroline Sack"
↑ Correlation between Math SAT Score (X axis) and Graduation Rate (Y) for three categories of students — Top Third, Middle Third, Bottom Third — among four Colleges. Whereas they have a Math SAT Score superior, the bottom third at Harvard struggles to graduate (85% drops) compared to the Top Third at Hartwick.
→ Related Videos: Malcolm Gladwell's Talk at Google Zeitgeist and Alex Chang's The Unspoken Reality Behind the Harvard Gates, an account on relative deprivation inside elite schools.
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