The new rankings from Money are out, and public colleges and universities account for 27 of the top 50 best values in 2017. These rankings are likely the best college rankings overall, given their balanced approach.
As Jeffrey J. Selingo writes in the Washington Post, the earnings portion of the rankings are based in part on some very interesting new evidence: the “Chelly data.”
“That refers to Raj Chetty,” Selingo tells us, “a Stanford professor, who has led a team of economists that has received access to millions of anonymous tax records that span generations. The group has published several headline-grabbing studies recently based on the data. In findings published in January, the group tracked students from nearly every college in the country and measured their earnings more than a decade after they left campus, whether they graduated or not.
Money does a better job of ranking colleges based on “outcomes” than Forbes does (see Outcomes farther down). This is especially the case with the multiple earnings analyses.
To see the list of top publics, please skip the methodology discussion immediately below.
The 2017 rankings include 27 factors in three categories:
Quality of education (1/3 weighting), which was calculated using:
Six-year graduation rate (30%).
Value-added graduation rate (30%). “This is the difference between a school’s actual graduation rate and its expected rate, based on the economic and academic profile of the student body (measured by the percentage of attendees receiving Pell grants, which are given to low-income students, and the average standardized test scores of incoming freshmen).” [Emphasis added.]
“Peer quality (10%). This is measured by the standardized test scores of entering freshman (5%), and the percentage of accepted students who enroll in that college, known as the “yield” rate (5%).” Note: using the yield rate is an improvement over the U.S. News rankings.
“Instructor quality (10%). This measured by the student-to-faculty ratio.” Note: this is very similar to a U.S. News metric.
“Financial troubles (20%). This is a new factor added in 2017, as financial difficulties can affect the quality of education, and a growing number of schools are facing funding challenges.” Note: although this is not an “outcome” either, it is more meaningful than using data on alumni contributions, etc.
Affordability (1/3 weighting), which was calculated using:
“Net price of a degree (30%). This is the estimated amount a typical freshman starting in 2017 will pay to earn a degree, taking into account the college’s sticker price; how much the school awards in grants and scholarships; and the average time it takes students to graduate from the school, all as reported to the U.S. Department of Education….This takes into account both the estimated average student debt upon graduation (15%) and average amount borrowed through the parent federal PLUS loan programs (5%).
“Student loan repayment and default risk (15%).
“Value-added student loan repayment measures (15%). These are the school’s performance on the student loan repayment and default measures after adjusting for the economic and academic profile of the student body.
Affordability for low-income students (20%). This is based on federally collected data on the net price that students from families earning $0 to $30,000 pay.
Outcomes (1/3 weighting), which was calculated using:
“Graduates’ earnings (12.5%), as reported by alumni to PayScale.com; early career earnings within five years of graduation (7.5%), and mid-career earnings, which are for those whose education stopped at a Bachelor’s degree and graduated, typically, about 15 years ago. (5%).
“Earnings adjusted by majors (15%). To see whether students at a particular school earn more or less than would be expected given the subjects students choose to study, we adjusted PayScale.com’s data for the mix of majors at each school; for early career earnings (10%) and mid-career earnings (5%).
“College Scorecard 10-year earnings (10%). The earnings of federal financial aid recipients at each college as reported to the IRS 10 years after the student started at the college.
“Estimated market value of alumni’s average job skills (10%). Based on a Brookings Institution methodology, we matched up data provided by LinkedIn of the top 25 skills reported by each school’s alumni with Burning Glass Technologies data on the market value each listed skill.
“Value-added earnings (12.5%). To see if a school is helping launch students to better-paying jobs than competitors that take in students with similar academic and economic backgrounds, we adjusted PayScale.com’s earnings data for the student body’s average test scores and the percentage of low-income students at each school; for early career earnings (7.5%) and mid-career earnings (5%).
Job meaning (5%). We used the average score of each school’s alumni on PayScale.com’s survey question of “Does your work make the world a better place?”
“Socio-economic mobility index (20%).
For the first time, we included new data provided by the Equality of Opportunity Project that reveals the percentage of students each school move from low-income backgrounds to upper-middle class jobs by the time the student is 34 years old.Finally, we used statistical techniques to turn all the data points into a single score and ranked the schools based on those scores.” [Emphasis added.]
The inclusion of these metrics makes the Money rankings a hybrid of the Washington Monthly “public good” rankings, U.S. News, and Kiplinger rankings, with the socio-economic factors having a less significant impact than the Washington Monthly rankings on overall standing. Still, these factors do result in two CUNY campuses’ receiving high rankings.
“The data showed, for example,” Selingo writes, “that the City University of New York propelled almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all eight Ivy League campuses, plus Duke, M.I.T., Stanford and Chicago, combined. The California State University system advanced three times as many.”
TOP PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES, MONEY MAGAZINE, 2017, BY NAME AND OVERALL RANK INCLUDING PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS:
CUNY Baruch College–2
College of New Jersey–24
UC Santa Barbara–36
Cal State Long Beach–42
Rutgers, New Brunswick–49