Missouri, Truman State make Kiplinger’s list of best-value colleges

Truman State and the University of Missouri in Columbia have made Kiplinger magazine’s 2012 list of the 100 best-value public colleges in the country.

MU, with annual tuition plus room and board of more than $19,000, ranks 80th on the list, and Truman State with a total cost of about $15,000 ranks 23rd.

But those prices are reserved for Missourians. For students residing outside the state the costs are $32,000 and $21,000 respectively. That doesn’t include books and other student fees that could raise the cost even higher.

No Kansas schools were mentioned among Kiplinger’s list. Officials at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine said Kansas schools fell just below the top hundred.

In the survey for value at public higher education institutions, schools were rewarded for low sticker prices and for doling out heaps of financial aid to help students keep graduation debt down. Kiplinger’s survey of about 500 public four-year institutions was narrowed to 120 based on SAT and ACT scores; admission and retention rates; student-faculty ratios; and graduation rates. Specialty institutions such as military schools were excluded.

MU, which admits nearly 85 percent of the students who apply, has a graduation rate of 43 percent after four years and 69 percent after six. The average student aid received by MU students is more $7,100, and graduates on average leave with more than $22,000 in debt.

At Truman State, academically the most highly selective of the state’s public colleges, has 43 /70 percent graduation rates. The average need-based aid received by Truman students is about $4,000, and debt upon diploma is an average $19,000.

This makes the 11th consecutive year that Truman State, located in Kirksville, has made the value list. To more efficiently use resources and avoid exorbitant tuition increase, Truman cut spending across its campus.

“We took a look at all our operations and asked ourselves, does this help us accomplish our mission?" President Troy Paino told Kiplinger. He said the ax fell on a campus recycling center that served the whole community and a crime lab available to law-enforcement agencies but “off-limits to students.”

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill topped the list. Princeton, Yale, and California Institute of Technology, in that order, topped the list for best values in the traditionally more expensive private colleges and universities.