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Last modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kiplinger's continues to identify IU as a 'best value'

Jan. 4, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For the second straight year, Indiana University is among the top 30 in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine's rankings of the "100 Best Values in Public Colleges."

IU, which ranks 30th overall, was third among Big Ten universities.

The rankings, which recognize public colleges and universities that "deliver a stellar education at an affordable price," will appear in the magazine's February issue hitting newsstands today (Jan. 4). They also are online at

"Indiana's quality measures have consistently gone up," said Jane Bennett Clark, senior associate editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance. "That is really the most important factor in the rankings. Quality really has to be strong to keep you up in the Top 30.

"I have just finished reviewing some of the more dramatic shifts, both up and down (from last year), and what I noticed was that increased costs are not the only measure that brings a school down. It's really the quality that makes a difference," Clark added. "With Indiana, I would say that the costs did not go up dramatically, compared with other schools, and the quality generally did go up."

To define quality, Kiplinger's uses criteria such as test scores of incoming freshmen, which in IU's case went up "significantly" this year, as well as retention and graduation rates and student-faculty ratios. The rankings are based on data that more than 500 public, four-year colleges and universities provided.

"Your grad rates also were up," she noted. "Grad rates are important for both measures. It's both a measure of how effective the school is in getting the kids their education, but it also saves parents money.

"Any school that is able to keep costs within a reasonable distance from last year's and maintains quality in this difficult environment, with budget cuts and increases in financial aid demand … is really doing a great job, and Indiana is among them."

Neil Theobald, IU vice president and chief financial officer, said he is delighted to see IU so highly ranked again.

"These rankings clearly are a reflection of the ongoing efforts of President McRobbie and the IU Board of Trustees to hold down costs, become more efficient and attract the most academically talented students," Theobald said. "Our goal has been to ensure that Hoosier students will always have a very cost-effective option for obtaining a high-quality college education."

Kiplinger's rankings focus on large research universities such as IU as well as smaller, prestigious and sometimes more specialized colleges. Unlike other college rankings, Kiplinger's bases its rankings entirely on measurable criteria, such as student-faculty ratios, admission rates, on-time graduation rate, sticker price and financial aid. It does not include subjective opinions, such as reputational surveys of deans at competing institutions.

IU was ranked behind Big Ten peers at the University of Wisconsin (ninth) and the University of Michigan (22nd).