The rankings are based on five general categories: Post Graduate success (30%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence, Student Satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates, Debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates, Four Year Graduation Rate (17.5%) and Competitive Awards (7.5%), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright.
In addition to the overall rankings, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity also prepares a "value" ranking which takes into account the overall cost of each school as relative to the quality of the education provided. Predictably, the service academies also dominate this "best-buy" list, nabbing the top three spots: West Point #1, Air Force Academy #2, and the Naval Academy #3. New York City's Cooper Union, which grants full scholarships to every student, snags the #4 value slot (#154 overall), with the College of the Ozarks (#6, #191 overall) and the University of Wyoming (#10, #361 overall) also giving students amazing value for their educational buck.
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