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U.S. News College Rankings Examine `Best Values’ and Student Debt

U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges roundup is out, and the usual familiar names top the lists.

However, there’s also an interesting breakdown of which colleges are producing graduates with the highest amount of student loan debt. That’s a particularly sore spot right now in higher education circles, as policymakers and students are pushing colleges and universities to improve affordability — without sacrificing quality.

Along those lines, U.S. News also has a list of “best value” colleges, which factors in both the school’s quality (as measured by the rankings) against the net cost of attendance. Interestingly, the top five are Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and M.I.T., which all can afford to offer generous need-based grants, thus improving their “value” factor.

It’s important to remember that U.S. News’ lists are just one perspective, and there have been plenty of questions raised about the merits of the publication’s formula and the accuracy of the information submitted by colleges and universities. For another take on ranking colleges, check out Washington Monthly’s College Guide.

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