Study: K-State ranked best value for higher education in Kansas; KU comes in 2nd

photo by: Mike Yoder

KU students visit and pass between classes outside of Wescoe Hall and across Jayhawk Boulevard from Strong Hall on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015.

The two largest universities in Kansas are again ranked as the best value for higher education in Kansas. But the local university is looking up to its land-grant cousin to the west for the fifth year in a row.

A study by SmartAsset, a financial technology company, recently ranked K-State as the best bang-for-your-buck university in the state. KU, often regarded as the state’s flagship university, was ranked second.

Top 10 best value universities and colleges in Kansas, according to SmartAsset

No. 1 — Kansas State University

No. 2 — University of Kansas

No. 3 — Washburn University

No. 4 — Wichita State University

No. 5 — Pittsburg State University

No. 6 — Fort Hays State University

No. 7 — MidAmerica Nazarene University (private)

No. 8 — Baker University (private)

No. 9 — Southwestern College (private)

No. 10 — Emporia State University

The study shows the biggest difference between KU and K-State value is tuition, with K-State offering an average tuition rate about $2,000 cheaper than KU. According to the study, K-State’s average tuition rate is $9,874 while KU’s is $11,455.

Paired with the tuition cost difference, K-State also boasts a higher average starting salary for its graduating students. However, the difference appears to be minimal: A K-State graduate’s average starting salary is listed as $51,600, and KU’s is listed as $51,500.

The results of the study were good news for K-State, which showed that 96% of its graduates in 2018 either continued their education for advanced degrees or secured jobs, Emily Lehning, interim vice provost for enrollment management, said in a K-State news release.

“A Kansas State University education is a terrific investment that pays off, as this survey shows,” Lehning said. “Not only do our graduates land jobs at a high rate … but they also are earning higher paychecks because of their K-State education.”

While KU’s tuition rate is higher, it offers more scholarship and grant opportunities for students, according to the study. KU offers an average of $6,552 in grants and scholarships while K-State offers $5,825.

Additionally, KU and K-State’s average student living costs are relatively the same. KU students spend an average of $13,760 on living costs while K-State students spend an average of $13,866.

Although K-State is considered to be the best value, it has not been the best at enrolling students. In recent years K-State has seen a rapid decline in student enrollment, falling by about 2,500 students since 2014. In contrast, KU’s enrollment has been relatively flat in the same time period.

When asked about the study, KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said the university does not put much stock in it.

“We get a dozen of these types of rankings every couple of months, but they’re not among the metrics we measure,” she said.

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