To rank the top 200 private universities in the United States, Kiplinger looked at tuition costs and financial aid numbers, competitiveness, academic support, graduation rates and student indebtedness. All of these factors have an effect on the perceived — and the fiscal — value of an education.
Kiplinger wanted to take "a fresh look at the criteria that go into [the definition of value] to better reflect the issues that affect real families" for the 2011-2012 rankings. Analysts gave a higher weight for colleges with a higher four-year graduation rate (Rice's is 82.5 percent), a higher percentage of freshman retention and lower numbers for outstanding student debt.
At $48,621 per year, Rice offers a lower total tuition cost than the other top-ranked schools, Princeton (No. 1), Yale (No. 2), CalTech (No. 3) and Harvard (No. 5). However, it also has a higher average of debt at graduation — $13,944 per student.
Three other private Texas universities made it to the top 100: Trinity (No. 27), Southern Methodist University (No. 56) and Baylor (No. 72).
On Kiplinger's Best Values in Liberal Arts College rankings, Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas ranked No. 73, and Austin College in Sherman, Texas ranked No. 78.