Consumers Digest Names 100 Colleges/Universities Top Values

    DEERFIELD, Ill., May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- One hundred colleges and
 universities out of some 3,800 U.S. schools have been ranked as the top
 values by Consumers Digest Magazine. The rankings are based on attributes
 that validate or define the institutions' academic prowess factored against
 annual cost of tuition and room-and-board. Among 50 public institutions
 cited, Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas, ranked No. 1.
 Among 25 private institutions, Brigham Young-Hawaii took top honors. Among
 25 private liberal arts schools, Centre College, Danville, Ky., held the
 first slot.
     The rankings, published in CD's June issue, were derived from a formula
 that blended the academic excellence of first-time freshman at a school
 (standardized test scores, high-school rank, grade-point average) with the
 institution's educational quality (4- and 6-year graduation rate,
 student-to-faculty ratio, percentage of faculty holding a PhD). That
 "value-index" score was factored with the cost of attending each school to
 determine which schools offered the most academic value per dollar. The
 rankings were based on information from 2005-06, the latest school year for
 which data were available.
     "Expert opinions and solid recommendations are two of our strengths,"
 says Randy Weber, publisher, Consumers Digest. "We applied those strengths
 to this examination of our country's higher-learning institutions. It's
 designed to help parents and students find schools that will meet families'
 performance and financial requirements."
     Consumers Digest first whittled down the list of schools based on a
 minimum level of academic performance by students institutions accepted.
 For public schools, the magazine only considered nonresident tuition
 figures. Military institutions and extremely specialized colleges were
 excluded. Financial aid was not factored in.
     Twenty-seven public institutions are new to CD's Top-50 list versus
 2004's evaluation. Among private colleges/universities and liberal arts
 schools, only 12 of the schools from 2004's report remained this year. The
 average Consumers Digest value-index score among private
 colleges/universities is 95.3, more than a point higher than before,
 indicating improved academic performance; yet the new average value-index
 score for public institutions is 94.2, nearly a point lower than in 2004.
 The average annual cost of attendance at CD's top schools was up: to
 $28,979 at private colleges/universities, from $24,842; and to $16,684 at
 public colleges/universities, from $15,865.
     "Our analysis helps families make an informed decision that puts their
 hard-earned money to the best use," says Weber.
     CD's Top 100 College Values accompanied an article titled "2007 College
 Road Map -- Making the Right Choices," which examines how schools are
 making admissions decisions today. For example, many institutions are
 attempting to balance their male/female enrollment numbers, meaning young
 men have a bit of an advantage overall. Two other articles, "Financial Aid:
 Know Your Options" and "Report Card: Grading Online Education," round out
 CD's eight-page section.
     Editor Rich Dzierwa points to a remark made by a professor of education
 that supports independent research. J.E. Stone of East Tennessee State
 University said, "Ninety-five percent of what the country knows about the
 education industry comes from the industry itself ... You have to wonder
 about the accuracy of the information." Says Dzierwa, "No matter the
 category, we never stop wondering about 'the accuracy of the information.'"
     Top 5 Best Values in Public Colleges and Universities
     1) Midwestern State (Wichita Falls, Texas)
     2) State University of New York-Stony Brook (Stony Brook, N.Y.)
     3) City University of New York (New York, N.Y.)
     4) Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Indiana, Pa.)
     5) Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (Slippery Rock, Pa.)
     Top 5 Best Values in Private Colleges and Universities
     1) Brigham Young-Hawaii (Laie, Hawaii)
     2) Trinity College of Florida (Trinity, Fla.)
     3) Claflin University (Orangeburg, S.C.)
     4) Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate, Tenn.)
     5) St. Leo University (St. Leo, Fla.)
     Top 5 Best Values in Private Liberal Arts Schools
     1) Centre College (Danville, Ky.)
     2) Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa)
     3) Rhodes College (Memphis, Tenn.)
     4) DePauw University (Greencastle, Ind.)
     5) Furman University (Greenville, S.C.)
     Consumers Digest, launched in 1959, is designed to inform and educate
 readers so they can buy with confidence. The magazine is committed to
 providing practical advice, factual evaluations and specific
 recommendations that lead consumers to exceptional values in today's
 complex marketplace.

SOURCE Consumers Digest Magazine

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