In its ranking of "best buys" in colleges--measuring quality of education, student costs and financial aid--US News and World Report ranked MIT as No. 4 among national universities in its September 25 issue.
Ranked No. 1 was the California Institute of Technology, followed by Rice University and the University of Rochester. Trailing MIT in the top ten were Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Virginia, Dartmouth, Brigham Young and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The "discount price" ranking was determined by:
1. The quality ranking in US News "America's Best Colleges" survey divided by the total cost (for tuition, room, board, fees, books and personal expenses) paid by an average student receiving a need- based grant;
2. The percentage of undergraduates receiving need-based grants,
3. Non-need grants, and
4. "The percentage that the total cost has been discounted for the average undergraduate receiving the average need-based grant."
US News calculated that the average need-based grant at MIT in 1994-95 was $14,715; that 48 percent of students received grants; that nobody at MIT got non-need awards; and that the "average discount cost" was $13,685, a 52 percent discount from total cost.
Eleven universities among the 50 were recorded as giving need-based aid only: MIT, Stanford, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Columbia, Yale, Cornell, Princeton, Harvard, Brown, Georgetown and the University of Washington. Among these schools, MIT had the highest percentage of students receiving grants (48 percent).
Universities in Massachusetts which ranked in the top 50 included Brandeis and Harvard (tied for 22) Tufts (39), and Clark University in Worcester (45).
In the similar ranking for "national liberal arts colleges," Massachusetts was represented by five colleges: Mount Holyoke (3), Amherst (11), Wellesley (15), Smith (20), and Williams (23). Grinnell in Iowa was No. 1.
US News also ranked colleges on their quality and "sticker prices" for tuition, room, board and required fees. In national liberal arts colleges, six Massachusetts schools were among the top 40, despite sticker prices of about $26,000: Amherst (5), Williams (6), Wellesley (7), Smith (19), Mount Holyoke (29), and the College of the Holy Cross (35).
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 27, 1995.