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College ranking website includes Villanova among 'most expensive'

BusinessWeek, Kiplinger list Villanova as ‘best value’ for private schools

By Caroline Goldstein
On December 2, 2010


Campus Grotto, a college news website, ranked Villanova as one of the most expensive schools in the nation. The University is No. 83 on the list of the 100 most expensive schools, with tuition plus room and board totaling $49,990. 

The University is No. 64 on the list of the 100 highest tuitions, with tuition of $39,350.

The top school on the list of the most expensive schools is Sarah Lawrence College, whose tuition and room and board cost $56,420. New York University and Wesleyan University follow, respectively.

"The Campus Grotto rankings judge by comparative difference," said George Walter, associate dean of Enrollment Management.

An example of this "comparative difference," which Walter noted, is that Boston University, which is ranked 50 on the list of the most expensive schools, is only $2,900 more expensive than the 100th school on the list, Princeton University. 

Therefore, rankings such as Campus Grotto's should be very carefully reviewed by students and families and only used as part of a very broad discussion of University cost and value, according to Stephen Merritt, dean of Enrollment Management.

"We tend to use rankings here at the University to reinforce what people already know or to get people to look deeper," Merritt said.

College Grotto's methodology is just one of many that official rankings employ when evaluating universities.

For example, Bloomberg BusinessWeek's college value ranking evaluates each college's 30-year net return on investment by subtracting the cost of the degree from the average earnings of a graduate. This ranking listed Villanova as No. 25 for its calculated return on investment.

Furthermore, Kiplinger's "Best Values in Private Education" ranked Villanova No. 31 recently, based on its academic quality and affordability.

Campus Grotto uses the published tuition cost posted by the school, but it also notes that financial aid influences what a student actually pays.

At Villanova, 64 percent of undergraduates receive some type of financial aid. 

This can include loans, outside grants and scholarships. Fifty-two percent of undergraduates receive aid from the University.

For the 2010-'11 academic year the University has budgeted $71 million for undergraduate financial aid.

The Office of Financial Aid will distribute $61 million in need and merit-based aid, with $10 million awarded in athletic aid. 

Last year, 5,477 students received financial aid, including approximately 4,600 undergraduate students, according to Walter.

The largest portion of the University's annual budget goes toward faculty and staff salaries, Merritt said. This allows for small class sizes and personal attention to students.

"That is what Villanova seeks to do — engage students," he said.

This is one difference that Merritt believes speaks to the value of the University. 

"For $50,000, students here get a uniquely personal experience," he said.

Merritt said that the University strives to ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to afford to attend Villanova.

Tuition increased 2.9 percent in the past year, which is the lowest increase in the past 40 years.

"We're very cognizant of the sacrifice families have to make here at Villanova," Merritt said.

Several schools, such as Columbia University, Bard College and New York University, have total costs nearing $60,000, according to a U.S. News and World Report article. It is possible that these schools could reach $60,000 by the next school year. 

The article also notes that many schools, including Vanderbilt University and George Washington University, will likely exceed $60,000 by 2012.

"Will the University's comprehensive cost ever rise to $60,000 someday? Probably," Merritt said. 

However, while he does not personally foresee a future cap on tuition, room and board, Merritt said that with continued careful cost containment and fiscal discipline, the University does not anticipate reaching $60,000 anytime in the near future.

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