Princeton Review Names SUU One of America’s Best Value Colleges
October 02, 2006
(written by Isaac Holyoak, junior Communication major from Murray, Utah)
In the quest for affordability and value, Southern Utah University has been ranked among America’s Best Value Colleges by the Princeton Review for 2007.
A school must excel in a variety of criteria to be one of Princeton Review’s Best Value Colleges. This year’s list began with 646 schools across the nation before being narrowed down to just 150 colleges. SUU made the list and joined the ranks of such schools as George Mason, Purdue, and Yale.
According to the Princeton Review, value is a combination of “excellent academics, great financial aid, and/or low tuition.” To determine this, the Princeton Review bases its decision on three criteria: Academic Rating, Financial Aid Rating, and Tuition GPA.
The Academic Rating is derived from student opinions and admissions statistics. This measurement is especially important because not only must a school excel in such areas as admissions, financial aid, and total cost, but also in the rigorous arena of student approval.
It is current student opinion that makes the Princeton Review such an exceptionally valuable ranking. “It doesn’t ask the opinions of administrators who are supposed to speak highly of the institution,” Dean O’Driscoll, SUU’s Marketing and Public Relations Director, says. “It goes directly to current students and asks their opinions.”
One student surveyed said that “SUU is about feeling like you belong somewhere.”
“That kind of information can’t be found by analyzing pages of statistics,” O’Driscoll states.
Financial Aid Rating is determined in two ways: the amount of need-based aid given to students, and how happy students are with their award packages. Once again, student input plays a substantial role in the Princeton Review methodology.
The last criterion in which SUU excelled is Tuition GPA. This term is used by Princeton Review to denote the real cost of college. The calculation begins by taking the total cost of college (tuition, fees, and room and board) and then subtracts the average student aid award package from that total.
As of last year, schools were also rated based on the amount of student debt at graduation and the percent of graduating seniors who borrowed from loan programs. SUU has managed to keep student debt low in an age of increasing tuition costs. The university was found to do an exceptional job at educating students on debt responsibility and loan repayment. Nationally, the default rate on student loans is 4.5 percent. SUU boasts a default rate of a mere 2.9 percent—a steady decrease from last year’s 3.4 percent.