BELLINGHAM - Western Washington University improved by 10 spots to rank 38th among the top 100 public colleges and universities in the nation that offer "a combination of outstanding academic quality plus an affordable price tag," according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.
In its February issue, Kiplinger's magazine ranks Western 38th on its list of the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges in the United States. The magazine ranked Western 48th in 2007.
"Western offers a quality educational experience at an affordable cost. Students tell us they choose Western because of its reputation for academic excellence, the close, personal attention students receive from our faculty, our beautiful campus and the wonderful environment here in Whatcom County," said President Karen W. Morse.
The rankings are based on data that more than 500 public four-year colleges and universities provided to determine the top 100.
The magazine, which has a circulation of about 1 million, ranked each school after an analysis of academic quality, including SAT scores, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios and four- and six-year graduation rates.
Each school was then ranked based on cost and financial aid, including factors such as tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, estimated expenses for books, financial aid available and the average debt a student accumulates before graduation.
The schools each receive two rankings - based on best values for in-state and out-of-state students. Western ranks 38th for in-state and 55nd for out of state.
Two other public universities in the state of Washington also were on the list. The University of Washington ranks ninth and Washington State University 90th . The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tops the list.
Western ranks ahead of a number of major colleges and universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, Purdue University, Louisiana State University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Arizona, University of Oregon and the University of Idaho.
Only four other institutions within its Carnegie classification - a system used in higher education to group institutions by size and degrees offered - finished higher than Western, and Western's ranking among those institutions of similar size and degrees offered was highest in the West.
Western also has consistently received strong rankings in U.S. News & World Report surveys of colleges and universities in the nation. For the 11th consecutive year, Western was ranked first among top public master's-granting universities in the Pacific Northwest and second in the West, according to the 2008 U.S. News & World Report college rankings.