UC Berkeley ranks 1st in Forbes’ 2016 ‘Best Value Colleges’ list

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UC Berkeley ranked first in the 2016 edition of Forbes’ “America’s Best Value Colleges” list of 300 schools, released Tuesday.

In addition to UC Berkeley, three other UC campuses placed in the top 10 of the list: UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Irvine. About 650 schools were surveyed, according to an email from Justin Strehle, a research associate at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, or CCAP, which collaborated with Forbes on the ranking methodology.

“I think (the rankings are) just further confirmation of what we already know — that the University of California is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, public university system in the world,” said UC spokesperson Kate Moser.

Forbes and the CCAP devised a formula that added up five differently weighted categories and then divided the sum by tuition and fee costs. The rankings accounted for factors such as school quality, dropout risk, graduation success rates, post-graduate earnings and value added by the school, according to Forbes.

The quality category — based on the 2015 Forbes “Top Colleges” list, in which UC Berkeley ranked 35th — was the highest weighted factor at 35 percent. Based on criteria from both the compensation information company PayScale and the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, post-graduate earnings accounted for the second most significant factor at 25 percent. Additionally, dropout risk and graduation success rates were both equally weighted in the formula at 15 percent.

Forbes noted that the top best-value schools were largely public, STEM-focused schools primarily located on the West Coast, instead of those in the Northeast and founded before 1800.

Moser added that UC Berkeley was a great campus, which was why it ranked first on the list.

“Forbes says it really well in their description: Students (at UC Berkeley) are getting an extraordinary education, and they’re getting a great deal at the same time,” Moser said.

Contact Shradha Ganapathy at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sganapathy_dc.