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Consumers Digest Names 100 Colleges/Universities Top Values.

DEERFIELD, Ill., May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- One hundred colleges and universities out of some 3,800 U.S. schools have been ranked as the top values by Consumers Digest Magazine. The rankings are based on attributes that validate or define the institutions' academic prowess factored against annual cost of tuition and room-and-board. Among 50 public institutions cited, Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas, ranked No. 1. Among 25 private institutions, Brigham Young-Hawaii took top honors. Among 25 private liberal arts schools, Centre College, Danville, Ky., held the first slot.

The rankings, published in CD's June issue, were derived from a formula that blended the academic excellence of first-time freshman at a school (standardized test scores, high-school rank, grade-point average) with the institution's educational quality (4- and 6-year graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, percentage of faculty holding a PhD). That "value-index" score was factored with the cost of attending each school to determine which schools offered the most academic value per dollar. The rankings were based on information from 2005-06, the latest school year for which data were available.

"Expert opinions and solid recommendations are two of our strengths," says Randy Weber, publisher, Consumers Digest. "We applied those strengths to this examination of our country's higher-learning institutions. It's designed to help parents and students find schools that will meet families' performance and financial requirements."

Consumers Digest first whittled down the list of schools based on a minimum level of academic performance by students institutions accepted. For public schools, the magazine only considered nonresident tuition figures. Military institutions and extremely specialized colleges were excluded. Financial aid was not factored in.

Twenty-seven public institutions are new to CD's Top-50 list versus 2004's evaluation. Among private colleges/universities and liberal arts schools, only 12 of the schools from 2004's report remained this year. The average Consumers Digest value-index score among private colleges/universities is 95.3, more than a point higher than before, indicating improved academic performance; yet the new average value-index score for public institutions is 94.2, nearly a point lower than in 2004. The average annual cost of attendance at CD's top schools was up: to $28,979 at private colleges/universities, from $24,842; and to $16,684 at public colleges/universities, from $15,865.

"Our analysis helps families make an informed decision that puts their hard-earned money to the best use," says Weber.

CD's Top 100 College Values accompanied an article titled "2007 College Road Map -- Making the Right Choices," which examines how schools are making admissions decisions today. For example, many institutions are attempting to balance their male/female enrollment numbers, meaning young men have a bit of an advantage overall. Two other articles, "Financial Aid: Know Your Options" and "Report Card: Grading Online Education," round out CD's eight-page section.

Editor Rich Dzierwa points to a remark made by a professor of education that supports independent research. J.E. Stone of East Tennessee State University said, "Ninety-five percent of what the country knows about the education industry comes from the industry itself ... You have to wonder about the accuracy of the information." Says Dzierwa, "No matter the category, we never stop wondering about 'the accuracy of the information.'"
 Top 5 Best Values in Public Colleges and Universities
 1) Midwestern State (Wichita Falls, Texas)
 2) State University of New York-Stony Brook (Stony Brook, N.Y.)
 3) City University of New York (New York, N.Y.)
 4) Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Indiana, Pa.)
 5) Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (Slippery Rock, Pa.)

 Top 5 Best Values in Private Colleges and Universities
 1) Brigham Young-Hawaii (Laie, Hawaii)
 2) Trinity College of Florida (Trinity, Fla.)
 3) Claflin University (Orangeburg, S.C.)
 4) Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate, Tenn.)
 5) St. Leo University (St. Leo, Fla.)

 Top 5 Best Values in Private Liberal Arts Schools
 1) Centre College (Danville, Ky.)
 2) Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa)
 3) Rhodes College (Memphis, Tenn.)
 4) DePauw University (Greencastle, Ind.)
 5) Furman University (Greenville, S.C.)

Consumers Digest, launched in 1959, is designed to inform and educate readers so they can buy with confidence. The magazine is committed to providing practical advice, factual evaluations and specific recommendations that lead consumers to exceptional values in today's complex marketplace.

CONTACT: Rich Dzierwa, Editor, Consumers Digest Magazine, +1-847-607-3000, ext. 7114,

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Date:May 1, 2007
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