MIT scores 100, but where does your college rank as best value?

The scoring system by SmartAsset shows how well institutions are competing state by state and against the best in the nation.
By: | July 7, 2022
ProStock Studio

The finance technology company SmartAsset recently released its list of the colleges and universities that possess the best value for students across the United States and in their individual states—another in a growing group of third-party rankings but one that does show how well institutions are meeting needs and enrolling students.

To determine those scores, SmartAsset gleaned information from several sources, including the National Center for Education Statistics, Payscale earnings reports and The Institute for College Access & Success. It then combined them to determine its College Education Value Index. So what does it measure?

“Tuition and student living costs and other personal expenses were used to capture the general costs associated with attending each school,” SmartAsset researchers said in the report. “We then compared the factors that illustrate a student’s return on investment [i.e. retention, average starting salary, scholarships and grants]. We applied 25% weighting to starting salary, tuition and living costs. We then gave 12.5% weighting to scholarships, grants and retention rate.”

Did it work? SmartAsset’s Top 10 contains a mix of state publics and privates along with a few surprises, although the expected lot of highly selective institutions stand out. The Massachusetts of Institute Technology, which lapped the rest of the field, is No. 1 with a perfect 100 score, based largely on its $93,700 average starting salary, its $50,000-plus in average student aid and its 98% retention rate. That 100 is the measure by which all of the rest are judged. At No. 2 is the California Institute of Technology at 87.7. Though it nearly matches MIT in starting salary for graduates at $93,100, it offers fewer scholarships and less grant money than the Boston-area powerhouse.

Rounding out the top 5 are Harvey Mudd College in California, Georgia Tech and Stanford University. Each has its own stellar traits, according to the study—Harvey Mudd boasting one of the highest starting salaries at more than $97,000; Georgia Tech offering a world-class education for only $11,000 in tuition, and Stanford putting together nearly $53,000 in aid with tuition hovering around $51,000.

Three publics earn the next spots: the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and its 96% retention rate; the Missouri University of Science and Technology with tuition under $10,000; and the Colorado School of Mines, whose grads earn nearly $80,000 right out of college. Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania and Rice University round out the Top 10.


More from UB: The top 100 universities in the world ranked by real impact


But what is unique about the work is that SmartAsset has broken down institution value against MIT state by state (though it could not get starting salaries for some colleges in Delaware, Wyoming, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana and Nevada, thus disqualifying them from an overall value rating). Many of those that cracked the Top 5 were either public institutions or had a technology lean. Here are the top institutions on value for students in each state, according to SmartAsset’s metric. (More schools are provided on the site):

Alabama: 1. University of Alabama-Huntsville (54.39). 2. Tuskegee University (50.04). 3. Troy University (44.06). 4. University of Alabama (43.38). 5. University of South Alabama (43.07).

Alaska: 1. University of Alaska-Fairbanks (58.87). 2. University of Alaska-Anchorage (37.71).

Arizona: 1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical-Prescott University (52.06); 2. University of Arizona (51.65). 3. Northern Arizona University (39.82).

Arkansas: 1. Harding University (51.76). 2. University of Arkansas (46.01). 3. John Brown University (44.47). 4. Arkansas Tech (41.22). 5. University of Central Arkansas (38.67).

California: 1. Caltech (87.27). 2. Harvey Mudd College (85.11). 3. Stanford University (82.22). 4. UC-San Diego (66.16). 5. UC-Berkeley (64.45).

Colorado: 1. Colorado School of Mines (76.91). 2. Colorado State University-Fort Collins (52.25). 3. University of Colorado-Boulder (48.00). 4. Colorado College (40.22). 5. Colorado Mesa University (36.87).

Connecticut: 1. Yale University (61.24). 2. University of Connecticut (59.84). 3. Wesleyan University (56.99). 4. Central Connecticut State University (46.13). 5. Fairfield University (45.13).

Delaware: 1. University of Delaware (58.70).

Florida: 1. University of Florida (64.72). 2. Florida State University (50.95). 3. University of Central Florida (47.38). 4. The University of West Florida (46.42). 5. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (45.64).

Georgia: 1. Georgia Tech (83.57). 2. University of Georgia (58.04). 3. Emory University (55.03). 4. Georgia State University (41.33). 5. Savannah State University (39.58).

Hawaii: 1. University of Hawaii-Manoa (36.45). 2. Hawaii Pacific University (23.71).

Idaho: 1. Brigham Young University-Idaho (67.04). 2. University of Idaho (51.99). 3. Boise State University (44.79). 4. Northwest Nazarene University (44.09). 5. Idaho State University (39.05).

Illinois: 1. Northwestern University (53.86). 2. Illinois Tech (53.37). 3. University of Chicago (50.71). 4. Wheaton College (48.35). 5. Bradley University (48.32).

Indiana: 1. Purdue University (74.71). 2. University of Notre Dame (60.81). 3. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (59.73). 4. Indiana University-Bloomington (57.74). 5. Indiana University-Purdue University (49.72).

Iowa: 1. Iowa State University (64.77). 2. University of Iowa (54.25). 3. University of Northern Iowa (48.44). 4. Simpson College (39.57). 5. Grinnell College (39.39).

Kansas: 1. Kansas State University (50.80). 2. University of Kansas (49.64). 3. Pittsburg State University (44.47). 4. Fort Hays State University (42.47). 5. Washburn University (38.94).

Kentucky: 1. Northern Kentucky University (44.96). 2. Western Kentucky University (44.24). 3. Centre College (43.02). 4. University of Kentucky (41.17). 5. Murray State University (39.71).

Louisiana: 1. Louisiana Tech (59.27). 2. University of Louisiana-Monroe (45.48). 3. McNeese State University (44.00). 4. Louisiana State University (43.84). 5. University of Louisiana-Lafayette (38.19).

Maine: 1. Colby College (57.97). 2. University of Maine-Orono (50.09). 3. Bates College (49.93). 4. University of Southern Maine (38.86). 5. University of Maine-Farmington (34.80).

Maryland: 1. University of Maryland-College Park (65.58). 2. Johns Hopkins University (65.38). 3. University of Maryland-Baltimore County (55.26). 4. Towson University (43.03). 5. Frostburg State University (41.42).

Massachusetts: 1. MIT (100). 2. Massachusetts Maritime Academy (68.63). 3. Harvard University (65.93). 4. Babson College (62.88). 5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (61.63).

Michigan: 1. University of Michigan (80.03). 2. Michigan Tech (71.44). 3. Kettering University (59.56). 4. Michigan State University (57.43). 5. Ferris State University (52.44).

Minnesota: 1. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (63.94). 2. University of Minnesota-Duluth (55.39). 3. Saint John’s University (52.60). 4. St. Olaf College (52.34). 5. Minnesota State University-Mankato (51.51).

Mississippi: 1. Mississippi State University (45.98). 2. University of Mississippi (42.20). 3. Mississippi University for Women (34.56). 4. University of Southern Mississippi (31.90). 5. Mississippi College (31.34).

Missouri: 1. Missouri University of Science and Technology (79.50). 2. Washington University in St. Louis (51.44). 3. Truman State University (48.84). 4. University of Missouri-Columbia (47.70). 5. Rockhurst University (47.17).

Montana: 1. Montana State University (48.37). 2. Carroll College (39.70). 3. University of Montana (37.96).

Nebraska: 1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln (47.97). 2. University of Nebraska-Omaha (45.29). 3. Creighton University (43.57). 4. University of Nebraska-Kearney (36.53). 5. Wayne State College (36.09).

Nevada: 1. University of Nevada-Reno (41.46). 2. University of Nevada-Las Vegas (39.74).

New Hampshire: 1. Dartmouth College (69.25). 2. University of New Hampshire (48.61). 3. Keene State College (39.56). 4. St. Anselm College (36.70). 5. Plymouth State University (33.07).

New Jersey: 1. Princeton University (75.09). 2. Stevens Institute of Technology (64.41). 3. Rutgers University-Brunswick (57.01). 4. New Jersey Institute of Technology (52.42). 5. The College of New Jersey (50.25).

New Mexico: 1. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (70.06). 2. New Mexico State University (45.83). 3. University of New Mexico (37.56). 4. Eastern New Mexico University (33.98).

New York: 1. Colgate University (70.56). 2. SUNY Maritime College (70.54). 3. Columbia University (69.81). 4. Cornell University (68.84). 5. SUNY-Binghamton (60.17).

North Carolina: 1. Duke University (69.78). 2. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (66.10). 3. North Carolina State University (63.81). 4. North Carolina A&T (61.18). 5. Appalachian State University (52.83).

North Dakota: 1. North Dakota State University (55.24). 2. University of North Dakota (53.64). 3. Minot State University (43.87).

Ohio: 1. Cedarville University (56.03). 2. Ohio State University-Main (55.70). 3. Case Western Reserve University (55.05). 4. Miami University-Oxford (48.11). 5. Ohio Northern University (47.88).

Oklahoma: 1. Oklahoma State University (50.92). 2. University of Tulsa (46.34). 3. University of Oklahoma (46.19). 4. Cameron University (43.72). 5. Northeastern State University (42.41).

Oregon: 1. Oregon Institute of Technology (62.28). 2. Oregon State University (52.61). 3. University of Oregon (46.50). 4. University of Portland (44.95). 5. Reed College (39.84).

Pennsylvania: 1. Carnegie Mellon University (76.67). 2. Lehigh University (70.61). 3. University of Pennsylvania (67.72). 4. Lafayette College (59.51). 5. University of Pittsburgh (59.41).

Rhode Island: 1. Brown University (65.01). 2. University of Rhode Island (48.30). 3. Providence College (43.83). 4. Bryant University (39.08). 5. Rhode Island College (38.81).

South Carolina: 1. The Citadel (55.94). 2. Clemson University (55.58). 3. University of South Carolina-Columbia (44.32). 4. Wofford College (40.00). 5. University of South Carolina-Upstate (35.80).

South Dakota: 1. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (67.73). 2. South Dakota State University (45.27). 3. University of South Dakota (40.93). 4. University of Sioux Falls (37.13). 5. Augustana College (36.64).

Tennessee: 1. Vanderbilt University (58.52). 2. Christian Brothers University (48.03). 3. Tennessee Tech (42.14). 4. Middle Tennessee State University (41.19). 5. The University of Tennessee-Martin (40.66).

Texas: 1. Rice University (76.34). 2. The University of Texas-Austin (66.86). 3. The University of Texas-Dallas (57.99). 4. Prairie View A&M University (57.56). 5. University of Houston (57.32).

Utah: 1. University of Utah (55.66). 2. Utah State University (52.92). 3. Weber State University (45.66). 4. Southern Utah University (40.48). 5. Westminster College (37.07).

Vermont: 1. Middlebury College (56.20). 2. University of Vermont (49.19). 3. Norwich University (42.25).

Virginia: 1. University of Virginia (74.50). 2. Virginia Tech (71.65). 3. Virginia Military Institute (69.26). 4. Washington and Lee University (61.03). 5. James Madison University (56.01).

Washington: 1. University of Washington-Seattle (68.19), 2. University of Washington-Bothell (64.35), 3. University of Washington-Tacoma (55.34). 4. Walla Walla University (55.34). 5. Washington State University (51.42).

West Virginia: 1. West Virginia University (53.63). 2. West Virginia University Institute of Technology (45.63). 3. Shepherd University (39.43). 4. Marshall University (39.22). 5. Fairmount State University (36.61).

Wisconsin: 1. Milwaukee School of Engineering (65.70). 2. University of Wisconsin-Madison (63.59). 3. University of Wisconsin-Platteville (62.84). 4. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (62.12). 5. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (55.81).

Wyoming: 1. University of Wyoming (51.78).