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Which college gives the best bang for your buck?

Posted by Leslie Anderson  September 9, 2013 06:28 PM

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You can judge a college by its prestige, its facilities, the beauty of its campus. But which school gives you the best bang for your buck?

As college costs continue to soar and families scrutinize the bottom line, Washington Monthly has published its new "2013 Best Bang for the Buck Rankings" - defined as those colleges that do "the best job of helping nonwealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices."

Which school comes out Number 1? Massachusetts' very own Amherst College -- followed by CUNY Queens College and CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College in New York, California State University-Fullerton, and the University of Florida.

Where do other Massachusetts institutions fall within the top 100? Williams is ranked 16th, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 53rd, Westfield State University 75th, and Bridgewater State University 83rd. No Ivies are among the 349 schools on the list.

But the criteria are tough: at least 20 percent of their students must be receiving Pell Grants, they must have a graduation rate of at least 50 percent, each school’s actual graduation rate must meet or exceed the rate that would be statistically predicted for that school given the number of lower-income students admitted, and schools must have a student loan default rate of 10 percent or less.

Washington Monthly publishes another list that ranks schools based on their contribution to the public good -- social mobility, research, and service. You'll find Harvard and MIT in the top 20.

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About College Bound

College Bound offers news and advice on preparing, applying, and ultimately heading off to college. Send your ideas and questions to Leslie.Anderson@globe.com. More »
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