University’s strong academics, tuition nationally recognized as ‘great value’

By Christine Kim

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine ranked the University as number eight in their 100 Best Values in Public Colleges in their February issue.

“I think from that point of view we are really a great value – we’re in the top handful of public universities in the country and to be listed as economically (viable) is important,” said Chancellor Richard Herman. “Both the quality of the institution and the value are being recognized.”

During the ranking process, Kiplinger used data that more than 500 public four-year colleges and universities provided to Thomson Peterson’s, a company that creates statistical databases on universities. The rankings did not include military schools and service academies, private institutions and those without housing or with a limited curriculum.

With academic quality in mind, the list of schools was reduced to the top 130, using test scores, admission rates, freshman retention rates, student-faculty ratios and graduation rates to narrow down the list.

The magazine then ranked each of the 130 schools based on cost of tuition and financial aid given. In-state tuition, the average cost after the subtraction of grants, the average percentage of need met by aid and the average debt accumulated by a student before graduation determined the affordability of each school.

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Although academic quality weighed more than costs at two-thirds of the numerical score, the average debt at graduation and academic-quality scores broke the ties of several schools on the list.

The Office of Student Financial Aid helps students find financial aid opportunities, said Robert Andersen, senior associate director of the Office of Student Financial Aid.

There are two types of funds available, need-based and merit-based scholarships. When a student applies with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, and shows a need for aid, a financial aid package is given to accommodate the level of need. However, merit scholarships are based on academic performance and can be given to students independent of their financial needs.

Vicky Yang, freshman in FAA, received both types of funds, totaling to an amount that pays almost all of her tuition costs. Being a National Merit Scholar and graduating at the top of her high school class, she received many scholarships and grants including the American Institute of Architects Scholarship, paying $2,000 yearly. In an estimated breakdown, Yang receives 60 percent of her financial aid from the University and 40 percent from federal aid.

“I made my decision to attend this University after I calculated how much financial aid I was going to receive,” Yang said. “The school plays a big part in the assistance in tuition and I’m very grateful for that. I’m glad my parents aren’t so stressed about possible financial problems that may result from college tuition.”

However, some students did not have the benefit of receiving aid from the University. Elizabeth Cimarrusti, junior in LAS, is a transfer student and pays full tuition.

“I was really disappointed that they don’t offer scholarships or any aid for transfer students,” Cimarrusti said.

Andersen said the Office of Student Financial Aid is working to better utilize these scholarships.

“We have quite a few scholarship funds that we’ve had over the course of many years and we’re trying to make sure we utilize all of them,” he said. “Much of the money is housed in each department or college in the University and one of our initiatives this year is to get them all together and to try to coordinate an effort to find out where the scholarships are and to try to utilize them the best way possible.”

The office is creating ways to add more money to scholarship funds. The office is planning fundraising events to help increase the number of scholarships and the award amounts.

“So we need to do everything we can to find scholarships and different types of funding for students,” Andersen said.