Texas A&M University now ranks No. 1 in "Smart Money" magazine's national ratings for "payback ratio"-the earnings levels of an institution's graduates compared to what they paid in tuition, fees and related costs for their undergraduate educations.
"Smart Money" editors advanced Texas A&M to the top spot-from runner-up honors-after they were informed by the initially top-ranked University of Georgia that it had inadvertently provided some incorrect information about its tuition.
Texas A&M is followed in the "Smart Money" updated list of 50 colleges and universities by the University of Texas at Austin and Georgia Tech, with the University of Georgia now ranked fourth. All other previously announced rankings remain the same, the magazine's editors note.
In the extensive article titled "Why The Ivies Aren't Worth It," the widely circulated personal-finance magazine published by "The Wall Street Journal" in its current edition (January 2009) says "an elite-college degree is nice, but once you factor in tuition and future salaries, public schools jump to the head of the class."
Texas A&M President Elsa Murano is cited in the article, noting "how stringently it (Texas A&M) economizes on administrative costs." She is quoted pointing out that Texas A&M "recently bucked the education-inflation trend by limiting this year's tuition hike to its lowest percentage in 10 years."
After seeing the published article, Dr. Murano said, "We are obviously pleased-but certainly not surprised-to have Texas A&M acknowledged as a national leader in the financial return on investment in a college education. "We take special pride in providing our students a high-quality education at the most affordable cost within our means, in keeping with our high standards as one of the nation's top research universities. We don't necessarily strive to be the least expensive; our goal is to provide the best overall value for a university that offers a world-class educational experience."
"Smart Money" editors explained that the "payback" ratio was determined by using data from an online salary database and then looking at the median salary alumni are earning within five years of graduation and after 10 years. The editors said they then divided each of those figures by the school's historical degree costs and averaged them together.