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Baylor ranks 62nd in best private school value

Nov. 2, 2010

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Baylor is now ranked 62nd in the 100 Best Values in Private Universities list published online by Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine.

"It's always a good thing to be recognized as an outstanding educational value, and we believe that Baylor University offers a valuable and high-quality academic experience in a Christian environment," Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, wrote in an e-mail to the Lariat. "But as President Starr has said, while we are committed to providing students an outstanding education, we also are very sensitive to the cost of higher education. That's why the university has established the President's Scholarship Initiative with a goal of raising $100 million in three years, so that any qualified student who aspires to attend Baylor can do so, regardless of need."

Three other private Texas universities rank higher than Baylor: Rice University in Houston, Trinity University in San Antonio, and Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

They are ranked fourth, 26th and 59th, respectively.

Factors considered in ranking the universities include admission rate, SAT/ACT scores, the student-instructor ratio, graduation rate, total cost, cost after need-based aid, aid from grants, cost after non-need-based aid, non-need-based aid and average debt at graduation, according to the Kiplinger website. The factors are aimed at addressing the quality and affordability of each university.

"Generally each of these measures tells you something about the school, either its quality or its cost and the combination gives you that value that parents are looking for, especially nowadays that college is generally so expensive," Jane Bennett Clark, senior associate editor for Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, said.

Previously, Kiplinger has ranked only the 50 Best Values in Private Colleges and Universities. Under the top 50 list, Baylor ranked 40th in February 2009 and was not ranked among the top 50 in December 2009.

Clark said Baylor was probably still among the top 100 when it was unranked in December, but that its drop in ranking since February is probably related to an increase in costs.

"Generally it just looks like the cost has gone up, which is not unusual," Clark said, "but it does seem to have made a difference in its ranking."

One school's rating might also be negatively affected by other schools' improvements, even if that school's data has not changed.

"Everything kind of shifts depending on the ways things shift in a certain field," Clark said. "As some schools improve on certain criteria, they'll move up, and that could push other schools down even if their particular measures remain the same."

Fogleman said the university is glad to be included in the list again this year.

"We're pleased that Kiplinger's has once again recognized Baylor as a best value among our fellow private institutions," Fogleman wrote. "We believe in our value as an educational institution, but it's also nice for Baylor to have that external recognition."

The university will work to move back up the list through projects such as the President's Scholarship Initiative and through working to improve retention and graduation rates, Fogleman said.

"Investing in student scholarships helps the university reach an immediate goal, which is lessening the financial burden on current and future Baylor students," Fogleman wrote. "That is something that will continue to position Baylor as a best value. In addition, like all universities, we are concerned about retention rates, which affect graduation rates, and we're always working diligently to improve recruiting, enrolling, retaining and graduating our students. We are focused on enhancing success for Baylor students, from before they ever set foot on campus to the day they graduate from Baylor. That's the other best value part of the Baylor experience."

Kiplinger's complete 100 Best Values in Private Universities list was published online in October, and the top 50 of this list will be published in the December issue of the magazine.