SmartMoney magazine ranks URI 15th in nation for return on investment

Survey points to publics for long-term value of college education

KINGSTON, R.I. – December 16, 2008 – The January 2009 issue of SmartMoney magazine ranks the University of Rhode Island 15th in a nationwide study of public and private colleges, examining the relationship between tuition costs and graduates’ earning power. In what it called a “twist on traditional college rankings,” the magazine assessed schools on their ability to deliver the best return on investment and sought to quantify the long-term value of a college education.

The monthly magazine, published by The Wall Street Journal, specifically cites URI as a far better value than all the private institutions included in the survey. At 15, URI is the highest ranked institution in New England, followed by the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) at 18, the University of New Hampshire at 23, and the University of Vermont at 42. Harvard is ranked 25, Princeton at 20 and Dartmouth at 21.

In his January article, “Why the Ivies Aren’t Worth it,” Neil Parmar writes, “Indeed those unheralded public universities turn out to be a far better deal than virtually all the privates we surveyed. The Ivies in general? They deliver nowhere near the payback on tuition that most parents staring at a six-figure bill over four years might expect.”

Working with consultant, the survey looked at what graduates from 50 of the most expensive four-year colleges earn in their early and midcareers. Then they factored in their up-front tuition and fees. The University of Georgia was No. 1 and would deliver a payback nearly three times that of Harvard, noted the article, while the “state universities of Delaware and Rhode Island would beat out every Ivy in the ranking.”

URI Dean of Admission Cynthia Bonn said, “We’ve known all along that our students receive an outstanding education for a tremendous value. It’s great that SmartMoney did the research that showed how well our graduates are doing, and that they are not burdened by the amount of debt that graduates of pricier schools are incurring.

“This validation by a respected national publication comes at a time when families are asking important questions about where their children will receive the best education for the most reasonable price.”

Parmar writes that elite private schools do boast of lower student-to-faculty ratios, large endowments, and name recognition and extensive alumni networks.

“But if long-term career and salary are what matters — and what else should, especially in today’s economy—then a growing chorus of private school critics point out that the public-school scenario may actually deliver a far greater bang for your buck,” the article says.

The complete article with the full chart of rankings can be found on page 73 of SmartMoney magazine.