MONEY'S college VALUE RANKINGS America's best college buys -- and how we found them

(MONEY Magazine) – Almost every parent of a college-bound child asks: Which colleges will deliver an education that's worth every penny that I'll have to pay? To help answer that question, MONEY's college ranking team, for the third year in a row, sifted through more than 100,000 pieces of information on 1,000 of America's four-year institutions of higher education. The results of our analysis appear in the box on page 67, where we list the 100 schools that deliver the most for your money. (You'll find our top 10 on page 56, the best college values in each of five regions on pages 68 and 69, and rankings of the best values in small liberal arts colleges, technology schools, women's colleges and historically black schools amid the master tables of key data that begin on page 70.) Chiefly because of hefty tuition increases, many schools that made our list last year fell several notches this year. They include the University of Virginia (tuition up 13%), St. Mary's of Maryland (up 17%) and Texas A&M (up 29%). And by holding down their tuition increases, Rutgers (up 5%) and Georgia Tech (up 3.9%) cracked our top 10. We based our calculations on 16 factors, including the schools' official full prices. We didn't adjust them for financial aid, because such awards vary widely from student to student. For public schools, we used nonresident tuitions in our ranking of the top 100 to serve the needs of someone shopping nationwide. We then ranked the public schools a second time, using their resident tuitions in our analysis. You'll find the results on page 73. In addition to price, we employed the 15 factors described below, which were chosen after consultation with nationally recognized experts on educational statistics. The schools that did best were those that achieved higher scores on the 15 factors than the levels suggested by the prices they charge. For example, a college that costs $8,800, average for the schools we studied, would be expected to graduate between 55% and 56% of its freshmen within six years, which is typical. Thus, a higher-than-expected graduation rate would help a school rise in the rankings, while a disappointing one would tend to push it down. We gathered our information from the colleges with the help of Orchard House of Concord, Mass., a publisher of college directories for high school and private counselors. We also drew on data from the National Research Council, the Department of Education, Standard & Poor's and John Minter Associates of Boulder. Here's an explanation of the 15 factors we used in our analysis: -- Faculty resources. We estimated the student/faculty ratio based on the number of full- and part-time undergraduate faculty and the number of full- and part-time students. Average for our sample: 14 to 1. -- Faculty deployment. We used the ratio of full-time students to full-time faculty who actually taught courses in the fall of 1991. Average: 17 to 1. -- Faculty strength. We counted the percentage of permanent faculty members holding the highest degrees available in their fields, usually doctorates. Average: 76%. -- Library resources. We divided the total of all reference materials and by the number of undergraduate and graduate students using the library. -- Instructional budget. The figures are supplied annually to colleges by the federal government. -- Student services budget. This is what a school spends on such things as counseling and student organizations. -- Entrance examination results. We used the percentage of 1991 freshmen who scored above 500 on the verbal and math portions of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (average of those who did: verbal, 40%; math, 59%) or above 23 on the composite ACT (average: 39%). -- Class rank. We considered the percentage of freshmen who were in the top fifth or the top quarter of their high school classes. Average: from the top fifth, 43%; from the top quarter, 47%. -- High school grade point average. This is the freshmen's average GPA on a four-point scale. Average: 3.0. -- Freshman retention rate. This is the percentage of freshmen students who returned as sophomores. Average: 77%. -- Graduation rate. We counted the percentage of students who earned degrees in six years or less. Average: 56%. -- Percentage of graduates who go on to professional or graduate schools. This figure indicates how well a school prepares students for more difficult academic environments. Average who continued their educations: 23%. -- Default ratio on student loans. The percentage of students who have ) defaulted on their student loans within two years of leaving college helps identify schools whose graduates have trouble using their educations as springboards to stable careers. Average: 6.3%. -- Number of graduates who earn doctorates. We used data from the National Research Council, which compiles a list of the undergraduate colleges attended by all students who earned Ph.D.s between 1981 and 1990. -- Business success. For this factor we relied on a tally of the schools attended by the 70,000 top corporate executives who are listed in Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives.

BOX: top 100

Here is our honor roll of four-year colleges. Their prices are bargains when measured against the quality of education they offer.

1. Rice University 2. New College-U. of S. Fla. 3. U. of Washington 4. Hanover College 5. Calif. Inst. of Tech. 6. Trenton State College 7. Ga. Inst. of Technology 8. Rutgers College 9. U. of N.C.-Chapel Hill 10. New Mexico Tech 11. Ill.-Urbana-Champaign 12. SUNY-Binghamton 13. Auburn University 14. U. of Texas-Austin 15. University of Kentucky 16. N.E. Mo. State College 17. Yale University 18. University of Virginia 19. Grove City College 20. Douglass College 21. Fisk University 22. Cook College 23. SUNY-Albany 24. St. Mary's of Maryland 25. University of Florida 26. Princeton University 27. Centenary College of La. 28. Spelman College 29. SUNY-Stony Brook 30. Mary Washington 31. University of Georgia 32. Wabash College 33. Texas A&M University 34. Livingston College 35. Baylor University 36. Harvard University 37. Pomona College 38. Trinity University 39. SUNY-Geneseo 40. Harvey Mudd College 41. Illinois College 42. SUNY-Buffalo 43. University of Iowa 44. U. of Wis.-Madison 45. Ohio University 46. University of Tulsa 47. Samford University 48. Iowa State University 49. Clemson University 50. U. of South Carolina 51. Johns Hopkins University 52. Miami University (Ohio) 53. Washington and Lee 54. James Madison U. 55. Columbia University 56. Purdue University , 57. U. of Mo.-Columbia 58. Emory and Henry College 59. University of the South 60. Westminster College (Pa.) 61. UC-Berkeley 62. Swarthmore College 63. UCLA 64. Bellarmine College 65. Stanford University 66. Dartmouth College 67. Berry College 68. Centre College 69. Mich. Technological U. 70. N.C. State University 71. Furman University 72. Davidson College 73. Wake Forest University 74. MIT 75. Erskine College 76. Notre Dame (Md.) 77. William and Mary 78. Hillsdale College 79. Drury College 80. Agnes Scott College 81. St. Mary's (Texas) 82. Virginia Polytechnic Inst. 83. Ohio State University 84. U. of Missouri-Rolla 85. MacMurray College 86. Rosemont College 87. U. of Connecticut 88. Case Western Reserve 89. Indiana U.-Bloomington 90. Grinnell College 91. Creighton University 92. Chestnut Hill College 93. Austin College 94. Millsaps College 95. Wofford College 96. Pennsylvania State 97. Claremont McKenna 98. Williams College 99. University of Chicago 100. Marquette University

BOX: the BEST BUYS in your area

Here's how schools in five U.S. regions stacked up against one another in our value rankings.

the northeast

1. Trenton State College 2. Rutgers College 3. SUNY-Binghamton 4. Yale University 5. Grove City College 6. Douglass College 7. Cook College 8. SUNY-Albany 9. St. Mary's of Maryland 10. Princeton University 11. SUNY-Stony Brook 12. Livingston College 13. Harvard University 14. SUNY-Geneseo 15. SUNY-Buffalo 16. Johns Hopkins 17. Columbia University 18. Westminster (Pa.) 19. Swarthmore College 20. Dartmouth College 21. MIT 22. Notre Dame (Md.) 23. Rosemont College 24. U. of Connecticut 25. Chestnut Hill College

the southeast

1. New College (Fla.) 2. Georgia Inst. of Tech. 3. U. of N.C.-Chapel Hill 4. Auburn University 5. University of Kentucky 6. University of Virginia 7. Fisk University 8. University of Florida 9. Centenary College (La.) 10. Spelman College 11. Mary Washington 12. University of Georgia 13. Samford University 14. Clemson University 15. U. of South Carolina 16. Washington and Lee 17. James Madison 18. Emory and Henry College 19. University of the South 20. Bellarmine College 21. Berry College 22. Centre College 23. North Carolina State 24. Furman University 25. Davidson College

the midwest

1. Hanover College 2. U. of Ill.-Urbana-Champaign 3. Northeast Missouri State 4. Wabash College 5. Illinois College 6. University of Iowa 7. U. of Wisconsin-Madison 8. Ohio University 9. Iowa State University 10. Miami University (Ohio) 11. Purdue University 12. U. of Missouri-Columbia 13. Michigan Technological 14. Hillsdale College 15. Drury College 16. Ohio State University 17. U. of Missouri-Rolla 18. MacMurray College 19. Case Western Reserve 20. Indiana U.-Bloomington 21. Grinnell College 22. Creighton University 23. University of Chicago 24. Marquette University 25. Michigan State

the southwest and mountain states

1. Rice University 2. New Mexico Tech 3. U. of Texas-Austin 4. Texas A&M University 5. Baylor University 6. Trinity University 7. University of Tulsa 8. St. Mary's University 9. Austin College 10. University of Arizona 11. University of Dallas 12. Southwestern University 13. Texas Christian 14. University of Denver 15. University of Utah

the west

1. University of Washington 2. California Inst. of Tech. 3. Pomona College 4. Harvey Mudd College 5. U. of California-Berkeley 6. U. of California-Los Angeles 7. Stanford University 8. Claremont McKenna 9. U. of California-San Diego 10. U. of California-Davis 11. U. of California-Riverside 12. Washington State 13. Hawaii Loa College 14. University of Oregon 15. Oregon State University