There’s a new set of college rankings on the scene, and the finance educators at College Coach are quite intrigued by them. Created by Money mag, the focus of the rankings is at the financial aspects of a college training including how much you might pay at different colleges and how much you may make after graduation. Three categories they use to construct their search positions are quality, affordability, and outcomes. You can read more about their methodology here .
They aren’t perfect—no set of search positions is—and we could write pages about whether or not this system can truly capture the diversity of higher education establishments and the students who are attending all of them. But those arguments aside, we like these rankings because they should fast you, the soon-to-be higher education customer, to ask colleges (and yourself) some good hard questions as you decide whether or not to include them on your program list.
Let’s take it one ranking category at a time:
Quality: In this category, Cash used several different pieces of data to rank quality, but I am going to focus on only one of them: graduation rates. Graduating rates are important because how rapidly you complete your education is usually directly related to how much you pay out! Graduation rates for all schools are readily available on the federal College Navigator website, and you should compare graduation rates among the colleges you are considering to see if you can find any differences. If there are, request the college to explain their rate. There might be extenuating circumstances that explain lower rates, and rates may vary simply by program or by colleges inside a university. Try to assess how most likely it is that you will need longer compared to four years to complete your diploma, and plan accordingly.
Affordability: Money used average net price, average indebtedness, and student loan default risk factors to calculate this ranking. Averages are great, yet what about you ? While colleges don’t tell you officially how much you will pay until after they possess accepted you in your senior yr, there are some ways to get an advance calculate of what a college will cost. Make use of the college’s net price calculator to calculate an estimate of your need-based educational funding eligibility (every college is required to possess one—just search on their web site). Does the college offer merit-based scholarships? These are awarded without regard to need, and you can find an answer simply by reading the college website. If merit aid is available, ask yourself: how most likely are you to receive a scholarship at that college? If you are above the particular median academic profile of inbound students, you are much more likely to receive one than students who are average or below average.
And as for indebtedness, how much can you afford to repay? It’s not too early to ask yourself this query. Experts say your monthly student loan payment should be no more than 10% of your monthly gross salary. Use calculators like this to try to estimate your starting salary and a reasonable amount of indebtedness. While these can be difficult plus complicated topics to think about this earlier in the process, having conversations about objectives now can make for a much less demanding spring of senior year.
Outcomes: Money used a few data from payscale. com to compare earlier and mid-career earnings by university, and they did some nifty adjustments to account for differences in majors. Nevertheless , they also collected information about something very simple: the staff to student proportion in the career services office. While that number is certainly a start, you should understand everything you can about the career solutions offices at schools you are considering. What programs do they offer to help new students discern skills and talents? Are there internships, co-ops and alumni mentoring programs available, and how broadly are they utilized? How will these possibilities affect your experience in your intended major?
While we are able to bemoan the existence of yet another set of university rankings to muddy the college search waters, we at College Coach think it’s much more useful to recognize what Money is trying to quantify plus apply it personally to your own procedure. Because after all, what you value and exactly what you expect to get out of your college training is what really matters!
Kathy Dark red is a member of College Coach’s team of college finance experts . Before joining College Coach, Kathy was as a Older Financial Aid Officer at St . Olaf College plus Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania .