Culture / Newsy

The Money Maker

A Surprise College Gets Ranked the No. 1 Value School in Texas — and Aggies Are Crying Foul

BY // 04.14.16

In an age when college loans can haunt a graduate throughout his or her life, finding an affordable school that will deliver on its ultimate promise (a good-paying job) means more than ever. One Texas university stands out in this respect, according to a new analysis from Forbes.

It may not be the school you expect, either.

For the Best Value College in Texas is not a relatively small Southern Ivy (sorry, Rice University) or a truly tiny hidden gem in San Antonio (you’re out of luck, Trinity University). Instead, it’s one of the behemoths that competes in big-time football and sometimes draws ire for its admissions practices.

The University of Texas has been deemed No. 1 when it comes to bang for your buck. Overall, UT’s ranked 17th in America in the new Best Value College rankings. That puts the Longhorns ahead of storied institutions such as Penn (No. 21), Carnegie Mellon (No. 27), Yale (No. 28) and Cornell (No. 36). (Andy Bernard is so upset right now!)

Of course, this means Texas is also looking down on its old arch-rival Texas A&M University, albeit barely, with the Aggies coming in just one spot behind UT in the rankings. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Production on these rankings, and there’s definitely a methodology to the madness. Five categories were measured and weighed to produce the rather exhaustive list. Quality (a college’s academic ranking) accounts for 35 percent of the score, drop-out risk (the percentage of students at a school who do not graduate in six years) is worth 15 percent, graduation success (how quickly students graduate) makes up another 15 percent, post-graduate earnings provide for 25 percent, and value-added (which takes into account how a college affects predicted future earnings) accounts for the remaining 10 percent.

Rice frequently ranks ahead of UT and Texas A&M in overall college rankings, but the Owls are back in 20th this time. Rice is hurt by its tuition ($56,316) being more expensive than both Texas ($51,352 out of state) and A&M ($39,873) and its projected student earnings not making up the difference. Of course, Rice administrators would likely argue that these rankings do not take into account the student aid it offers, which has helped it win the No. 1 spot on Kiplinger’s best value rankings for private universities in the past.

The Forbes “win” means plenty for the University of Texas, though. And with three colleges in the Top 20, the Lone Star State doesn’t do bad overall, either. The University of California, Berkeley took the top spot in the nation and four California colleges finished in the Top 10 overall.

After Rice at No. 20, the drop-off to other Texas colleges is rather severe. Trinity is next at No. 116. SMU (No. 131), University of Dallas (No. 176), Southwestern University (No. 218), Austin College (No. 227), Baylor University (No. 234), TCU (No. 238) and University of Texas, Dallas (No. 275) round out the Texas universities in the Top 300.

Some days, everyone’s staring up at Longhorns.

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