University of Michigan surges to second place in national ranking

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - 1:25am

In Money Magazine’s annual ranking of best-value colleges, the University of Michigan jumped from 18th to second place nationally in one year, behind only Princeton University.

In addition to be the highest-ranking Michigan university on the list — with Michigan State University in 54th place and Michigan Technological University in 90th — the University was also the highest-ranking public university.

Money Magazine examined over 2,000 colleges, screening out any with below-average graduation rates, fewer than 500 students and financial difficulties as determined by the Department of Education. It then equally weighted quality of education, affordability and graduate outcomes in its ranking system, as measured by 24 separate metrics ranging from standardized test scores to student-faculty ratios and recent-alumni salaries obtained from the open-source website Payscale.

Notably, public universities are rated based on their in-state fees even if they have significant out-of-state student populations, like the University. While the expected annual cost for an in-state lower-division undergraduate is $28,776, a similar out-of-state student at Michigan will pay $59,784, according to the University Office of Financial Aid. This would suggest the same value proposition that is implied for in-state students by Money's ranking would not necessarily apply to their out-of-state peers.

In an e-mail interview with the Detroit Free Press, Kim Clark, a Money Magazine senior writer, attributed Michigan’s surge in rankings to a reweighting of Money’s criteria to reward schools that performed well across multiple metrics, as opposed to more specialized schools performing extremely well in a small number of metrics.