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August 22, 2013 3:25 PM 2013 Bang-For-Buck College Rankings

By Ed Kilgore

As noted earlier, last year the Washington Monthly supplemented its famed College Rankings with a new measurement of a school’s “bang for the buck,” to “highlight those colleges that use their resources to effectively educate students at a relatively low cost—and to call out those that burn though tuition dollars without much to show for it.” Since President Obama today called on the Department of Education to begin working towards a similar ranking of colleges’ cost-effectiveness, we decided to accelerate by a few days the release of WaMo’s 2013 “Bang-for-the-Buck” rankings.

We’re publishing rankings for national universities (where the University of Florida and my own University of Georgia finished one-two), for liberal arts colleges (Massachusetts’ Amherst and Williams Colleges top the list), for master’s universities (CUNY’s Queens College and Baruch College are the leaders), and for baccalaureate colleges (BYU-Idaho and College of the Ozarks are tops). Combining all the rankings, the top ten are Amherst, Queens, Baruch, Cal State-Fullerton, Florida, Cal State-Long Beach, Georgia, UNC-Chapel Hill, Appalachian State, and NC State. I won’t name the woofers here, but you can check them out in the full listings.

We don’t pretend these are perfect rankings of college cost-effectiveness, but they do continue the Washington Monthly’s tradition of steadily moving beyond the famously influential U.S. News rankings, which have had a dubious effect on collegiate and parental decision-making. Our full 2013 College Rankings, which include other measurements of college quality, will be published on Monday, August 26.

Check out today’s and Monday’s rankings. We suspect they’ll get some attention in the White House and in the Department of Education as a template for where the president wants to go.

UPDATE: Here’s Robert Kelchen’s introduction to the new bang-for-buck rankings, which explains the criteria.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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