MONEY Ranks Scranton Among Nation’s Best College Values

Jul 21, 2016

MONEY magazine ranked The University of Scranton among the nation’s colleges that deliver the “best value” in a 2016 list published online July 20. Its analysis ranked just 705 of the “nation’s best-performing colleges” based on their evaluation of 24 factors in three categories: educational quality, affordability and alumni success. Scranton, ranked No. 291, was the highest ranked school in Northeastern Pennsylvania and among 25 Jesuit universities listed.

Colleges with graduation rates below the national median, that were in financial difficulty, or that had fewer than 500 undergraduates, were not considered in MONEY’s ranking.

The methodology MONEY used to rank the colleges’ “academic quality” included the six-year graduation rate, the standardized test scores of incoming freshmen, the student-faculty ratio and the “value-added graduation rate,” which compares the school’s actual graduation rate with its expected graduation rate based on its student body academic and economic profile, among other factors.

The criteria used to assess “affordability” included an estimate of the “net price of a degree,” which assessed tuition, the time it takes for students to graduate, tuition inflation and the school’s average need, merit and athletic financial aid. The “affordability” criteria also looked at student debt, student loan default rates, student loan default rates adjusted for the economic and academic profile of a school’s student body and the affordability for low- and moderate- income students, among other factors.

The criteria used to assess “outcomes” included salaries of alumni reported in PayScale early- and mid-career, as well as their reported earnings at these points adjusted by major. In addition, the “outcomes” criteria looked at U.S. Department of Education’s College Scoreboard earnings data, career services staffing levels based on student enrollment and the “market value of alumni skills,” which is based in the Brookings Institute’s calculation of the market value of skills commonly listed by alumni in their LinkedIn profiles, among other factors.

A 2015 report issued by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program placed Scranton among the top 50 colleges in the nation based on its earning scale for alumni at mid-career level. The report, which sought to measure the contributions made by colleges to the economic outcomes of its graduates, calculated a 31 percent earnings increase – or “value-added” – of a Scranton education. A second report issued by Brookings in 2015 placed Scranton among the top 100 colleges in the nation for the increase in annual earnings it contributes to its graduates based on its analysis of data published in the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scoreboard.

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