Forbes ranks UC Berkeley 5th among best-value colleges, above Harvard, Stanford

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UC Berkeley ranked fifth on Forbes’ 2019 list of best-value colleges, again surpassing both Stanford University and Harvard University.

This set of rankings aims to give incoming students an overview of colleges that not only provide quality academics, but also do so at a manageable cost for their students. Forbes published its list with May 1 in mind — the date by which most college-bound students must accept offers of admission from their campuses of choice.

“Most students and their families are interested in value over prestige,” Forbes said in its introduction to the report. “(The ranking) is the definitive guide for those looking for an excellent return on one of the most important investments of their lives.”

Brigham Young University made it to the top of Forbes’ list, followed by Princeton University, UC Irvine, UCLA and then UC Berkeley. In previous years, UC Berkeley had ranked higher — in 2017, it topped the list.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Michael Dirda said in an email that the campus is grateful to see Forbes recognize the value of the campus’s education.

“Berkeley students graduate with the lowest amount of debt of any UC and among the lowest of any school in the country, and yet Cal scores among the nation’s best in terms of return on investment in lifetime earning,” Dirda said in an email.

According to the latest data published by the campus’s Office of Planning and Analysis, 91 percent of freshmen graduate in six years or less, and 92 percent of transfer students graduate in four years or less. Of all incoming students in fall 2016, about half of transfer students and a quarter of freshmen received Pell Grants. Forbes considered this information when determining the rankings.

Forbes compared data from 645 schools across the nation. Schools were ranked based on their places in the Forbes 2018 America’s Top Colleges ranking, net student debt, net price, alumni earnings, six-year graduation rate and percentage of Pell Grant recipients. For state schools such as those in the UC system, in-state tuition was used in the calculations.

In their 2018 ranking of best overall colleges, Forbes ranked UC Berkeley 14th out of 650 schools in the United States. Factors considered in that ranking also included alumni salaries, student debt and retention and graduation rates, as well as student experience and “signs of individual success including academic and career accolades.” The 2019 America’s Top Colleges ranking has yet to be released.

Freshman Julia Nicholson said that while she feels all colleges are too expensive, the time spent at UC Berkeley is valuable.

“I think it’s a very valuable way for me to spend my time at a place where the goal is learning and there’s so many resources and people who are willing to help you out,” Nicholson said.

Contact Maya Akkaraju at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maya_akkaraju.