Kiplinger: Wisconsin schools among best values in private colleges


Laura Stevens


Alison Goldstein


— Swarthmore College and Princeton University Top the 2010–11 List —

Washington, D.C. (October 28, 2010)—Kiplinger’s Personal Finance today announces its annual rankings of the best values in private institutions, listing private liberal arts colleges and universities that deliver a high-quality education at an affordable price. Swarthmore College returns to the top of the liberal-arts list after a two-year hiatus, and Princeton University heads the private university list, nudging out the California Institute of Technology, which held the title for the past four years.

The annual Kiplinger 100 rankings appear in the December 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—on newsstands November 9. Additionally, for the first time, Kiplinger ranks an additional 100 private institutions on its website. The expanded list, totaling 200 schools, is accessible now at. Added online features include a closer look at the top ten schools in each category in a slideshow, tables that can be dynamically sorted by readers according to category of interest, and the most frequently asked questions about our annual rankings.

The average cost of one year at a four-year private school has lately been about $36,000, according to the College Board, with the increase for 2010-11 a relatively modest 4.5%. However, the net price—the cost after financial aid—puts the total out-of-pocket cost, on average, closer to $22,000.

“What’s more, some of the colleges on the Kiplinger rankings offer a net price below $20,000, making some of the best institutions in the world a downright bargain,” says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s.

Leading the private university list, Princeton was the first university, in 2001, to eliminate student loans from its financial-aid package. Instead, the school offers grants. No matter what their family income, students who qualify for aid benefit from Princeton’s no-loan policy. In this year’s entering class, families with incomes of $160,000 to $180,000 qualified for an average grant of $26,450. Since 2001, the average debt upon graduation has dropped to less than $5,000, the lowest on the Kiplinger rankings.

Topping the liberal-arts list, Swarthmore boasts top academics, high-caliber students and a generous financial-aid policy. Due to the recession, the investment return on Swarthmore’s endowment sank almost 17% from its pre-recession peak before recovering somewhat in 2009 and 2010. Meanwhile, financial-aid expenses rose by 12.5%.To address the budget crunch, Swarthmore froze salaries, cut departmental expenses, dipped into its reserve fund, and asked alums and other donors to help. The effort paid off, and Swarthmore continues to accept and meet the needs of all qualified students and has kept this year’s tuition increase to 3.8%. The Kiplinger rankings are:

Liberal Arts Colleges (1-100)

1. Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.
2. Pomona College, Claremont, Cal.
3. Williams College, Williamstown, Mass.
4. Washington and Lee Univ., Lexington, Va.
5. Davidson College, Davidson, N.C.
6. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine
7. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, Cal.
8. Amherst College, Amherst, Mass.
9. Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y.
10. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
11. Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.
12. Haverford College, Haverford, Pa.
13. Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.
14. Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn.
15. College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass.
16. Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y.
17. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.
18. Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colo.
19. Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa
20. Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt.
21. Bates College, Lewiston, Maine
22. Lafayette College, Easton, Pa.
23. Macalester College, St. Paul, Minn.
24. Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pa.
25. Scripps College, Claremont, Cal.
26. Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
27. St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.
28. Colby College, Waterville, Maine
29. Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio
30. Occidental College, Los Angeles, Cal.
31. Centre College, Danville, Ky.
32. Illinois Wesleyan Univ., Bloomington, Ill.
33. Denison University, Granville, Ohio
34. Rhodes College, Memphis, Tenn.
35. Barnard College, New York, N.Y.
36. Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Mich.
37. Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, Cal.
38. Furman University, Greenville, S.C.
39. Wofford College, Spartanburg, S.C.
40. Trinity College, Hartford, Conn.
41. Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
42. Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
43. Lawrence University, Appleton, Wis.
44. Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
45. Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa.
46. Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa.
47. Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Peter, Minn.
48. Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Cal.
49. Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.
50. Pitzer College, Claremont, Cal.

51. DePauw, Greencastle, Ind.
52. Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass.
53. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa.
54. Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.
55. Connecticut College, New London, Conn.
56. Sewanee: Univ. of the South, Sewanee, Tenn.
57. Principia College, Elsah, Ill.
58. Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pa.
59. Beloit College, Beloit, Wis.
60. Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa.
61. Spelman College, Atlanta, Ga.
62. St. Lawrence, Canton, N.Y.
63. Austin College, Sherman, Tex.
64. Willamette, Salem, Ore.
65. Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pa.
66. Southwestern, Georgetown, Tex.
67. Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Ind.
68. Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y.
69. St. John’s Univ., Collegeville, Minn.
70. Christendom College, Front Royal, Va.
71. Knox College, Galesburg, Ill.
72. Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa
73. Reed College, Portland, Ore.
74. Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Ga.
75. Transylvania Univ., Lexington, Ky.
76. College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn.
77. Hope College, Holland, Mich.
78. Susquehanna, Selinsgrove, Pa.
79. Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa.
80. Univ. of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Wash.
81. Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.
82. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.
83. Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Ore.
84. Berea College, Berea, Ky.
85. Presbyterian College, Clinton, S.C.
86. Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Mich.
87. Gordon College, Wenham, Mass.
88. Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
89. Westmont College, Santa Barbara, Cal.
90. Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, Ala.
91. Goshen College, Goshen, Ind.
92. Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.
93. College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio
94. Bennington College, Bennington, Vt.
95. Washington College, Chestertown, Md.
96. Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, N.Y.
97. Earlham College, Richmond, Ind.
98. St. John’s College, Annapolis, Md.
99. Drew University, Madison, N.J.
100. Saint Anselm College, Manchester, N.H.

Universities (1-100)

1. Princeton, Princeton, N.J.
2. Yale, New Haven, Conn.
3. Cal. Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Cal.
4. Rice, Houston, Tex.
5. Duke, Durham, N.C.
6. Harvard, Cambridge, Mass.
7. Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.
8. Columbia, New York, N.Y.
9. Brown, Providence, R.I.
10. Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.
11. MIT, Cambridge, Mass.
12. Stanford, Stanford, Cal.
13. Washington Univ. in St. Louis, St. Louis, Mo.
14. University of Richmond, Richmond, Va.
15. Emory, Atlanta, Ga.
16. Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Md.
17. Univ. of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.
18. Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tenn.
19. University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
20. Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
21. Wake Forest, Winston-Salem, N.C.
22. Northwestern, Evanston, Ill.
23. Cornell, Ithaca, N.Y.
24. Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
25. Brandeis, Waltham, Mass.
26. Trinity, San Antonio, Tex.
27. Tufts, Medford, Mass.
28. Univ. of So. California, Los Angeles, Cal.
29. Lehigh, Bethlehem, Pa.
30. Bentley, Waltham, Mass.
31. Villanova, Villanova, Pa.
32. Gonzaga, Spokane, Wash.
33. University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y
34. University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.
35. Elon, Elon, N.C.
36. Clark, Worcester, Mass.
37. Emerson College, Boston, Mass.
38. Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
39. Providence College, Providence, R.I.
40. Tulane, New Orleans, La.
41. George Washington, Washington, D.C.
42. Creighton, Omaha, Neb.
43. Santa Clara Univ., Santa Clara, Cal.
44. Pepperdine, Malibu, Cal.
45. Case Western Reserve, Cleveland, Ohio
46. Drake, Des Moines, Iowa
47. Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Pa.
48. Northeastern, Boston, Mass.
49. Boston Univ., Boston, Mass
50. Marquette, Milwaukee, Wis.

51. Whitworth, Spokane, Wash.
52. American, Washington, D.C.
53. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.
54. New York Univ., New York, N.Y.
55. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.
56. Bradley, Peoria, Ill.
57. Fordham, New York, N.Y.
58. University of Portland, Portland, Ore.
59. Southern Methodist, Dallas, Tex.
60. University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
61. Saint Michael’s College, Colchester, Vt.
62. Baylor, Waco, Tex.
63. Syracuse, Syracuse, N.Y.
64. Yeshiva, New York, N.Y.
65. University of Denver, Denver, Colo.
66. Butler, Indianapolis, Ind.
67. Hood College, Frederick, Md.
68. University of San Diego, San Diego, Cal.
69. University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Okla.
70. Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ill.
71. Loyola University of Maryland, Baltimore, Md.
72. Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles, Cal.
73. University of Scranton, Scranton, Pa.
74. Seattle Univ., Seattle, Wash.
75. Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y.
76. Saint Louis Univ., St. Louis, Mo.
77. Xavier, Cincinnati, Ohio
78. Belmont, Nashville, Tenn.
79. Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio
80. Samford, Birmingham, Ala.
81. Bethel, St. Paul, Minn.
82. Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, N.Y.
83. Chapman, Orange, Cal.
84. Rollins, Winter Park, Fla.
85. Fairfield Univ., Fairfield, Conn.
86. Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, N.J.
87. Manhattan College, Riverdale, N.Y.
88. Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio
89. Loyola University of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.
90. Bellarmine, Louisville, Ky.
91. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, N.Y.
92. University of the Pacific, Stockton, Cal.
93. Canisius College, Buffalo, N.Y.
94. Wagner College, Staten Island, N.Y.
95. Point Loma Nazarene, San Diego, Cal.
96. Azusa Pacific, Azusa, Cal.
97. DeSales, Center Valley, Pa.
98. Le Moyne College, Syracuse, N.Y.
99. Quinnipiac, Hamden Conn.
100. Saint Joseph’s Univ., Philadelphia, Pa.

More on Ranking Methodology

Selected from a pool of more than 600 private institutions provided by Peterson’s, schools on the Kiplinger list were ranked by academic quality and affordability—with quality accounting for two-thirds of the total. Because liberal arts colleges focus on undergraduates and universities include graduate students, Kiplinger’s divides the schools into two categories. The rankings factor in both the data and the results of Kiplinger’s reporting.

About Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

For nine decades, the Kiplinger organization has led the way in personal finance and business forecasting. Founded in 1920 by W.M. Kiplinger, the company developed one of the nation’s first successful newsletters in modern times. The Kiplinger Letter, launched in 1923, remains the longest continuously published newsletter in the United States. In 1947, Kiplinger created the nation’s first personal finance magazine. Located in the heart of our nation’s capital, the Kiplinger editors remain dedicated to delivering sound, unbiased advice for your family and your business in clear, concise language. Become a fan of Kiplinger on Facebook and follow Kiplinger updates on Twitter.