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As UF vies for top 10, college ranking systems evaluate value

While UF’s administration pushes toward becoming a top 10 university, college ranking systems are shifting their attention from prestige to value.

Washington Monthly, Payscale.com, The Alumni Factor, Forbes and the Princeton Review have recently released varieties of “best value” rankings, in which they ranked colleges based on affordability and education quality. The New York Times published a story on the trend Sunday.

Rankings

Aaron Watkins, a 23-year-old UF political science senior, said he picked UF over Columbia University because of tuition rates and the fact that his Florida residence offered him a Bright Futures scholarship.

UF spokesman Steve Orlando said students and parents are taking the issue of value more seriously, particularly because the cost of a college education is higher than it’s ever been.

He said UF has consistently been ranked as a good value college, and in-state tuition rates remain below the national average.

According to UF’s Student Financial Affairs website, the average cost of attendance for an undergraduate resident living on or off campus for the 2013-2014 school year is about $20,220.

Out-of-state students pay about $42,498.

“We’re pretty hard to beat,” Orlando said.

Watkins said when he considered where to go to college, post-graduate debt also played a large role in his decision.

Pharmacy sophomore Charlotte Jung, 19, said tuition value was the most important part of her choice to attend UF over the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jung, a Florida resident, said her decision made financial matters less stressful for her parents due to smaller loans, especially because she has a younger sister who will be in college in two years.

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She said she thinks prospective students should take college value into account when choosing colleges.

“Everyone’s really worried about money right now,” Jung said.

Watkins said though prestigious schools are highly ranked and respected, high prices are unreasonable.

He said students’ outlooks and what they do with their education is what matters the most.

“It’s what you make of it,” Watkins said.

A version of this story ran on page 8 on 10/29/2013 under the headline "As UF vies for top 10, college ranking systems evaluate value"

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