By Tom Ballard
In the plethora of college rankings released every year, the College is no stranger to making the cut. In MONEY magazine’s recent “Best Colleges for Your Money” rankings, the College ranked 39th for public colleges and 94th in the nation for colleges with the best value.
“MONEY has done a number of rankings in the last year and TCNJ has done very well in all of them because, according to their metrics, we have a very high return on investment,” College spokesperson Dave Muha said.
According to its website, the criteria MONEY used to examine colleges required the schools to have at least 500 students, a graduation rate at or above the average for its school type (public or private), sufficient data to be analyzed and financial stability. MONEY noted that after applying that criteria to the nation’s approximate 2,000 four-year institutions, 705 were able to be ranked.
The MONEY rankings combined the available price estimates for attending a college with what a student would likely earn after graduation, as well as how much “value” a college adds when compared to similar schools, according to their website.
“We estimate a college’s comparative value by calculating its performance on important measures, such as graduation rates, student loan repayment and default rates, and post-graduation earnings, after adjusting for the types of students it admits,” according to MONEY’s website. “We believe this analysis gives students and parents a much better indication of which colleges will provide real value for their tuition dollars.”
The website goes on to say that the magazine built its rankings around three core factors: quality of education, affordability and the outcomes of students after graduating.
Muha said students and parents should expand their view of affordability when looking at colleges in order to include the benefits of attending and graduating from certain institutions such as the College.
“When people think about affordability, they often look only at the cost of tuition and fees,” Muha said. “But they really should think about the total cost of earning the degree. Tuition adds up and the longer it takes to graduate, the more you will ultimately pay. TCNJ has placed an emphasis on helping students complete their degree on time, which is reflected in the fact that we have the fifth highest four-year graduation rate in the country.”
In addition to having a high graduation rate, the College also boasts a high percentage of students who are able to move on after receiving their undergraduate degree from the College, Head Media Relations Officer Tom Beaver said. According to Beaver, 96 percent of undergraduate students are either employed or seeking a graduate degree within one year of their graduation.
“To us (at the College), this factors into the overall return on investment of a TCNJ degree, and goes a long way in explaining why we fare as well as we do in rankings like MONEY (magazine),” Beaver said.
According to the College’s page on MONEY’s website, students from the College take home an average annual salary of $50,500 within five years of graduating. The average student debt for students who attend the College is $23,196, according to the website.
On Thursday, April 7, MONEY named the College as one of the 20 public colleges in the country that are the most likely to pay off financially for students.