Perhaps it should be of note, if not concern, that no college or university in Kansas made this year’s list of “best value” colleges as compiled by The Princeton Review.
The company, which is not affiliated with Princeton University, says the list of 75 private and 75 public institutions that make up its “150 Best Value Colleges,” was based on a study of information concerning admissions, tuition and financial aid gleaned from nearly 650 colleges and universities from the 2012-13 school year.
The Review has partnered with USA Today for six years to announce the annual findings. The most recent were unveiled Tuesday.
Schools from Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas made the list, and Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., landed the ninth spot among the public “Top 10” colleges. Big 12 schools Iowa State University, and the universities of Texas and Oklahoma made the list, as did former conference schools Colorado and Nebraska. Kansas, meantime, as a state, was shut out.
The lesson for families, said a Review representative, is that the schools on the “best value” list do a superior job of helping able students graduate without leaving them in a financial hole. The Review advised the best strategy for a student is to become attractive to a school academically, and that the student’s academic accomplishments are a higher concern than family income.
The lesson for Kansans is less clear. Perhaps it means that diminishing state assistance to state universities has inevitably forced tuition rates higher and is pricing our institutions of higher education out of the market, compared to peers and geographic and conference neighbors.
Perhaps it also means that additional funds contributed to the schools’ endowment arms should be allocated to scholarships and other means of assisting students, although 57 percent at Kansas University receive aid, according to a Princeton Review source. Altogether, perhaps it illustrates that the states surrounding Kansas have done a better job of making higher education affordable to the students they admit.
Regardless, it would be pleasing if the matter provoked some healthy interest under the glowing, new capitol dome, instead of the bashing, backbiting and snarky debate about the value of higher education that currently is marking discussions in our Legislature.