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Best Value Colleges in the U.S. 2016-2017: Comparison of Four Publications

Best Values

Defined by Business Dictionary, a “Best Value” is “a tradeoff between price and performance that provides the greatest overall benefit under the specified selection criteria.”   Which U.S. schools are the real “Best Values?”   Let’s compare the lists from various media.

Media used in the comparison table below are often quoted by most U.S. colleges and universities.

  • Kaplinger’s Personal Finance
  • Forbes Magazine
  • U.S. News & World Report
  • Money Magazine

The data table below shows U.S. schools which can produce the best values for their graduates.

Data Sources and Ranking Metrics for Best Value Colleges

Kiplinger's Personal Finance

  • Publish Date: December 2016
  • Source of Data: Peterson’s Undergraduate Database
  • Ranking Metrics: Based on the median earnings of graduates at a particular college 10 years earlier and who received federal financial aid.


U.S. News & World Report

  • Publish Date: September 2016
  • Source of Data: U.S. News & World Report
  • Ranking Metrics: based on both academic quality and cost at each national university.  (Only the “Best Value” rankings for national universities are provided in this blog post.)


  • Publish Date: July 2016
  • Source of Data: various
  • Ranking Metrics: judging colleges on 24 factors, “including widely accepted quality measures such as graduation rates, affordability measures such as how much students and parents have to borrow, and measures of alumni success such as how much recent graduates earn.”  – Money Magazine
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