<i>SmartMoney</i> Magazine Ranks a UMass Amherst Degree as among the Nation’s Best Values

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the nation’s best long-term values for students, according to the January 2009 issue of SmartMoney magazine, which ranks colleges based on the cost of attendance and earning power after graduation.

UMass Amherst ranks 18th nationally in a study of 50 leading colleges, placing ahead of schools such as Harvard, Yale, Swarthmore, Dartmouth and the University of Michigan. Overall, “public universities turn out to be a far better deal than virtually all the privates we surveyed” in providing return on investment, according to the magazine.

“Families and students increasingly recognize that UMass Amherst is an outstanding value, and this survey highlights the excellent opportunities offered here,” said campus spokesman Ed Blaguszewski. “As the state’s public research university, we distinctly offer undergraduates a broad array of majors and the chance to engage in high-level research, preparing students for professional success.”

Working with consultant PayScale.com, publisher of an alumni salary survey, SmartMoney looked at what graduates from 50 top public and private colleges earn in their early and mid-careers. The study then factored in up-front tuition and fees to calculate a “payback ratio” for each school. UMass Amherst has a payback ratio of 152 percent, with median salary calculated to be $46,600 three years after graduation and $88,200 fifteen years after graduation. This year, tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates total $10,232.

Some of the country’s public universities are on the SmartMoney list, including the University of Georgia, Texas A&M, University of Texas at Austin, Georgia Tech, University of Washington, Rutgers, University of Illinois, Clemson, Purdue and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.