For the 11th straight year, Centre College has been ranked among the best values in American higher education by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, coming in on the 2017 list at #34 in the nation for liberal arts colleges.
Among institutions in the South, Centre was ranked #4, behind only Davidson College, Washington and Lee University and the University of Richmond.
The Kiplinger’s methodology focuses on quality (55 percent) and cost (45 percent) nearly evenly, but begins with the quality factor, narrowing down nearly 1,200 public and private colleges and universities to 300 before factoring for cost and value. From there, Centre appears on an even more focused list of the top 100 liberal arts colleges.
Combining quality and affordability has long been a hallmark of a Centre education.
U.S. News & World Report has ranked Centre among the nation’s top 50 colleges 19 out of the last 20 years, as well as 23 times in the last quarter century. And besides Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review, Forbes, Money magazine and U.S. News have all ranked Centre a “best value,” with high return on investment.
On the component of quality, Kiplinger’s considers the four-year graduation rate most heavily, and in this category Centre stands out at #26 in the nation. With an average rate in the mid-80 percent range, Centre excels as one of those “colleges that help students get undergraduate degrees on time and within budget,” according to Kiplinger’s.
Centre’s first-year retention rates in the low-90 percent range and a student-faculty ratio of 10-to-1 also strengthen the quality measures that Kiplinger’s calculates.
Cost factors begin with total price tags, and here Centre remains an outlier among national liberal arts colleges, in large part because of its commitment to keep annual increases at or below three percent. In total, 76 colleges on the Kiplinger’s list have costs that exceed those of Centre College, with some 50 schools costing $60,000 or more per year.
Financial aid is another key cost factor, and Kiplinger’s looks at both need-based and non-need-based aid, the latter typically called merit scholarships.
For the former, Centre provides an average $26,886 in need-based aid, according to the Kiplinger’s calculation. And on the strength of its merit scholarships, Kiplinger’s ranks Centre #23 for non-need-based aid.
The best distinction, however, is for the overall number of students receiving aid, which is 90 percent. For this, Centre earns a #17 ranking on the Kiplinger’s list.
Factor all these elements together, and it’s clear why Centre is among the nation’s liberal arts college leaders at #34 overall. The combination of quality and affordability has a positive impact beyond any one individual, according to Centre President John A. Roush.
“For the United States to remain the land of opportunity, education must continue to pave a pathway to access the American dream,” Roush says.
“We focus intensely on keeping alive the hopes and aspirations of bright young men and women from all walks of life, irrespective of background,” Roush adds, “and we continue to see our graduates make a meaningful impact for good in their communities, throughout this nation and across the globe.”
And the outcomes data for graduates is high, with 96 percent employed or pursuing advanced study within 10 months of graduation (according to a 98 percent reporting rate for 2015 graduates, the most recent data available).
Because approximately 85 percent of these graduates conducted collaborative research projects with a professor or engaged in an internship by the time of graduation, their potential was all the more strengthened.
This is why the Centre Commitment not only guarantees graduation in four years and a study abroad experience but also an internship or research experience.
Complete information about the 2017 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance “Best Value Colleges” is available here.
by Michael Strysick
December 19, 2016