Students looking for a good deal in their college education might be better off at Williams College than at Penn, at least according to The Princeton Review. Penn did not rank as one of the top ten best value private colleges in 2014, although it was listed as one of the top 75 best value colleges this year. It also did not rank in the top ten in 2013, 2012 or 2011. The Princeton Review computes its rankings through institutional and student surveys in three main areas: academics, financial aid and “tuition GPA,” which calculates the real cost of attending a college. The rankings are “based on the idea that bang for your buck means excellent academics, great financial aid and/or low cost of attendance,” according to The Princeton Review’s website. Michael Goran, founder and director of IvySelect, a college counseling company, does not see the rankings as significant in the perception of Penn. “Honestly, I don’t know of any of my students who have used the Princeton Review’s Best Value colleges in evaluating whether Penn should be on the top of their rankings,” said Goran, a 1976 College graduate. Goran also suggested that The Princeton Review’s methodology might be skewed to favor small class sizes or schools, since five of the top ten best value schools are liberal arts colleges. “It’s nice to make it, but you can’t be in the top for everything,” he said. The cost of attendance, a factor in The Princeton Review’s rating system, averages $17,000 among the top ten best value schools, after deducting the average grant to students with need. While Princeton Review does not specify an average net cost for attending Penn, the business publication Kiplinger estimates that price to be $23,954. Dean of Admissions Eric Furda pointed out that Penn ranks tenth on Kiplinger’s list of the top ten best value colleges. “Penn’s all grant and no loan financial aid, success of Pat Rose’s Career Services and the success of our alumni and the network it provides are all part of the Penn story,” Furda said in an email, “regardless of the methodology and how Penn fares from ranking to ranking and year to year.” It currently costs $61,800 to attend Penn, and students on average graduate with $21,190 in debt, according to the Princeton Review. Director of Financial Aid Joel Carstens stands by Penn’s financial aid program as one of the best in the nation. Carstens said Penn is in the top tier of aid programs, along with most of the Ivy League, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities were the only Ivy League schools on the Princeton Review’s top ten list.
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