Make it five in a row for Illinois State University.  For the fifth straight time, Illinois State is ranked as one of 100 best values in public colleges in the country according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. According to an article in the December 2008 edition, Kiplinger’s list focuses on schools that offer a “combination of outstanding academic quality and an affordable price tag.”

“It is a testament to the quality of our students, faculty and staff, and our academic and support programs that Illinois State has made the Kiplinger list for five straight editions,” said President Al Bowman.  “The fact that it has happened in the midst of a state economy that has cost the University tens of millions of dollars makes the ranking even more remarkable. To be in the company of some of the finest public institutions in the nation is one more indicator that we are achieving our goals through the University’s strategic plan, Educating Illinois.”

Illinois State ranked 94th on the list, up six spots from last year. Kiplinger’s rankings are based on data provided by more than 500 public four-year colleges supplemented by the magazine’s independent research. Ranking measures include freshman class ACT scores, admission rates, student-faculty ratios, the percentage of faculty with the highest degree in their field, how much each school spends on instruction for each student, how much each school spend on it library facilities and four-and six-year graduation rates.

Kiplinger’s then ranks each school on a combination of quality and cost components, including cost for in-state students (tuition, mandatory fees, room, board and estimated expenses for books and supplies), the average for each student with need after subtracting grants (but not loans), the average cost for a student without need after subtracting merit-based grants, the average percentage of need met by aid and the average debt a student accumulates prior to graduation.

Kiplinger’s places greater overall weight on quality, which accounts for about two-thirds of the final score, than on cost. Other institutions on the list include the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of California and University of Arizona. The University of Illinois was the only other state university to make the list.