(MONEY Magazine) – IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR HELP IN DECIDING WHICH OF THE nation's thousands of colleges would be best for your child, welcome. The 20-page list starting on page 71 gives basic information on 1,049 leading four-year colleges and universities. Our list excludes colleges that didn't qualify for the analysis that determined our 100 best buys because of the religious nature of their curriculum or campus life, as explained on page 23. However, it does include more than 150 schools that were ineligible for the value rankings for nonreligious reasons. Among these schools are service academies, highly specialized colleges, schools that require students to work during the academic year, and colleges at which more than 45% of the students attend classes part time. Schools that were excluded from our value analysis are indicated by footnotes.

MONEY and Wintergreen/Orchard House of New Orleans, a college directory publisher, gathered the data with surveys in the spring of 1995 and with follow-up phone calls. If a college made our top 100 honor roll, its rank appears to the left of its listing in this guide. All footnotes appear on page 95. Explanations of the statistics follow:

Tuition and fees: The charges for freshmen in the 1995-96 academic year. For public schools, we give the price for freshmen from out of state.

Room and board: What the typical student pays, usually to live in a double room on campus and eat 19 meals a week.

Total discounted tuition: The average amount paid by students in 1994-95 after financial aid was deducted from the official price for tuition, fees, room and board. For public schools, we used the average price paid by all students, so in-state students paid less than the figure we give.

Percentage of students receiving financial aid: The portion of undergraduates who receive any type of financial aid, whether based on need or merit, including loans, tuition waivers, work/study and athletic scholarships.

Percentage of need met: The average percentage of a student's financial need--as determined by the federal aid formula--that was actually filled.

Average gift aid per student: The amount of scholarships and grants that came from the college's own funds in 1993-94, divided by the total number of undergraduates.

Student/faculty ratio: The number of students per faculty member, as reported by schools. (For the Money Guide value rankings starting on page 14, we used three different student/faculty ratios that we calculated from our own data.)

Percentage graduating in six years: The percentage of 1988 freshmen graduated by summer 1994. (Footnotes show where we had to use other graduation rates.)

Student academic level: When reporting academic achievements of their most recent freshman class to Orchard House each year, schools put a typical student in one of these categories:

1. Top 20% of high school class; GPA of B+ or better, SAT scores above 1,200 or ACT scores above 28

2. Top 40% of high school class, with GPA of B or better, SAT scores between 1,100 and 1,199, ACT scores of 27 to 28

3. Top half of class, GPA of B- or better, SAT scores between 950 and 1,099, ACT scores of 23 to 26

4. Top 60% of class, GPA of C or better, SAT scores between 800 and 949, ACT scores of 19 to 22

5. Grades/scores lower than above

Finally, we list the schools' phone numbers, usually of the admissions offices.

[Text not available--Table providing Money ranking, College name and location, Tuition and fees, Room and board, Total discounted tuition, % of students receiving aid, % of need met, Average gift aid per student, Student/faculty ratio, % who graduate in six years, Student academic level and Telephone number for 1,049 colleges]


1 Women's college 2 Historically black college 3 School with a large part-time student enrollment; not included in Money's value study 4 Specialty school; not included in Money's value study 5 Men's school 6 Rutgers University numbers include Cook, Douglass, Engineering, Livingston and Rutgers College 7 Comprehensive tuition price includes room and board 8 Fees are higher for culinary students 9 Deposit required for all freshmen 10 Room only; meals not included 11 Estimate 12 Includes aid for College of Pharmacy, Nursing or other specialty programs 13 Freshman only 14 Based on merit aid only 15 Five-year graduation rate 16 Four-year graduation rate 17 Estimate based on full-time faculty who taught at least one course in the fall of 1994

N.A.: Not available; tables reflect data available as of Aug. 7, 1995

Sources: Wintergreen/Orchard House of New Orleans Moody's Investor Services NCAA and the schools