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Ranking Methodology

Best Value Schools publishes college degree rankings with the belief of how one's higher education should be, both, affordable and an investment of continued value for the students who pursue them.

Ranking the Best Value Schools for 2019-2020

To score each degree program, BVS considers the cost and value of each school. The cost of every degree isn't merely the cost of tuition, however. The cost of education, or Net Price, is calculated using data provided by the National Center for Educational Statistics' College Navigator and the NCES Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. 

The data provided from NCES allows BVS to calculate every degree's Net Price to represent a program's cost of tuition and fees, textbooks, supplies, and the local cost of living. Outside of collecting financial data, however, BVS also ranks degree programs based upon how much value a degree can provide students for the short and long-term future. A degree's short-term value might involve factors such as:

  • Institutional and educational support
  • Financial aid and accessible legal assistance
  • Student facilities and access to modern technology
  • Community inclusivity, student engagement, and diversity amongst campus values

A degree's long-term value might include factors such as employment opportunities, prospective salaries for specific industries, and how well alumni networking enables students to secure job placements post-graduation.

It All Adds Up!

The factors representing the Net Price and, both, short and long-term value of higher education can be simplified into weighted categories and then scored to deliver a scaled BVS Score up to 100. The weighted categories are scored against the Net Price, which involves:

Degree Investment Return (25%)

BVS uses data supplied by PayScale to determine the average mid-career salary of professions who have earned specific degrees within our rankings.

Student & Alumni Evaluation (25%)

Approximately 60 percent of evaluations reported by current and graduated students on websites like Rate My Professor and Students Review. BVS collects the other 40 percent of reviewed data from PayScale.

Cost Value (25%)

The cost value of a degree utilizes information pertaining to Net Price and the availability of financial aid, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics' IPEDS survey.

Matriculation (10%)

Institutional matriculation rates are just a fancy way of categorizing how competitive a degree's acceptance rates are. Since many colleges refrain from publishing this data, however, BVS determines this figure by collecting average SAT and GRE scores of admitted students. Schools report college entrance exam scores to the NCES.

Academic Success (15%)

BVS determines the academic success of any given degree program by the number of students retained by the school after their freshman year. Since the amount of time needed to graduate varies by degree major and platform, BVS uses retentions figures as a way to understand how accessible a degree is through said institution. NCES also provides academic success statistics.

We Value Your Educational Future

No matter what degree you decide on, we hope our research and support has made the selection process easier. There are other resources BVS utilizes to collect information on degrees, and we encourage you to check them out for yourself as well!

Best Value Schools' Additional Data Sources:

The editors of Best Value Schools will continue to publish additional sources and degree rankings as information is released.

For additional clarification, questions, or concerns, please contact our content editor at