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SmartMoney magazine: Ohio State is a top university for return on tuition investment

The January 2009 issue of SmartMoney magazine ranks The Ohio State University 11th in the nation in a study that measures the long-term value of a college education. In what it called a "twist on traditional college rankings," the magazine examined the relationship between tuition costs and graduates' earning power to measure which schools deliver the best return on tuition investment.

The monthly magazine, published by The Wall Street Journal, cites Ohio State as a better value than all the private institutions included in the survey. At 11, Ohio State is one of the highest ranked schools in the Midwest and third highest in the Big Ten. (University of Illinois is ranked seventh, Purdue is ranked ninth.) Public universities comprise the top 15 places of the 50 colleges that were ranked.

In his January article, "Why the Ivies Aren't Worth it," Neil Parmar writes of the decision that Ohio State freshman Rachel Kominsky made in choosing Ohio State over the University of Pennsylvania.

"Indeed, the class valedictorian and National Honor Society vice president from Cleveland was accepted to eight of the 10 schools she applied to, including Cornell, Northwestern and University of Pennsylvania. But after her parents wrote the deposit check for U Penn, Rachel began stressing about what it would take to pay back the $150,000 Ivy League tuition bill. And a new feeling began welling up: buyer's remorse."

Working with consultant PayScale.com, SmartMoney studied the relationship between the tuition costs and graduates' earning power. For 50 of the most expensive four-year colleges, the survey first looked at what graduates from 50 of the most expensive four-year colleges earn in their early and midcareer. After factoring in up-front tuition and fees, they developed an average payback ratio.

With an average payback of 315%, Texas A & M ranked first in the survey, delivering a payback nearly three times that of 20th ranked Princeton (139% payback), the top ranked Ivy League school. Ohio State ranked 11th with an average payback ratio of 179%. The only other Ohio school in the survey was Oberlin, ranked 49th with a 79% payback.

Top schools in the survey include:
1. Texas A & M, Average Payback: 315%
2. University of Texas, Austin Average Payback: 306%
3. Georgia Tech, Average Payback: 263%
4. University of Georgia, Average Payback: 239%
5. University of Washington, Average Payback: 225%
6. Rutgers, Average Payback: 214%
7. U. of Illinois, Average Payback: 210%
8. Clemson. Average Payback: 201%
9. Purdue, Average Payback: 197%
10. U of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Average Payback: 190%
11. Ohio State University, Average Payback: 179%
12. U. of Virginia, Average Payback: 176%
13. Indiana (Bloomington), Average Payback: 175%
14. U. of California (Davis), Average Payback: 169%
15. U. of Rhode Island, Average Payback: 168%
16. U. of Delaware, Average Payback: 164%
17. Penn State, Average Payback: 156%
18. U. of Mass (Amherst), Average Payback: 152%
19. Washington and Lee, Average Payback: 145%
20. Princeton, Average Payback: 132%

The magazine acknowledges that elite private schools offer lower student-to-faculty ratios, large endowments, name recognition and extensive alumni networks. "But if long-term career and salary are what matters – and what else should, especially in today's economy – then a growing chorus of private school critics point out that the public-school scenario may actually deliver a far greater bang for your buck," the article says.

A portion of the article is posted online at http://www.smartmoney.com/Personal-Finance/College-Planning/The-Best-Colleges-For-Making-Money