(Posted December 23, 2014)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College rose two slots in the final major higher education poll by placing 79th in Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranking for "Best Values in Private Liberal Arts Colleges." The 2015 rankings mark the fourth time Juniata has been included in the annual rankings by the renowned business publication.

The personal finance magazine poll ranks 100 liberal arts colleges and 100 private universities that "deliver a high quality education at an affordable price." The colleges exemplify the attributes students and parents look for, including small class sizes, good freshman retention rates and a high four-year graduation rate.

"Don't assume in-state public schools are always the least expensive option. A private school could be even more affordable."

Janet Bodnar, editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

The liberal arts college rankings will appear in the February 2015 issue of the magazine, on sale Jan. 6.

Juniata, which was ranked 81st last year, is ranked just above Furman University, in Birmingham, Ala., at 80th, and Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa, at 81st. Ranked just above Juniata is College of St. Benedict, in St. Joseph, Minn., at 78th, and Millsaps College, in Jackson, Miss., at 77th.

Juniata is one of 13 Pennsylvania colleges to be included on the liberal arts college rankings. Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pa., was rated first in the poll. Other college rankings are: Haverford College, in Haverford, Pa., at fourth; Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pa., at 31st; Bryn Mawr College, in Bryn Mawr, Pa., at 37th; Lafayette College, in Easton, Pa., at 46th; Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pa., at 47th; Gettysburg College, in Gettysburg, Pa., at 49th; Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster, Pa., at 53rd; Muhlenburg College, in Allentown, Pa., at 62nd; Juniata College at 79th; and Ursinus College, in Collegeville, Pa., at 87th.

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors rank the institutions by measuring academic quality and affordability. The magazine lists the top 100 universities and liberal arts colleges in separate tables, using the Carnegie classification system, which organizes institutions based on the highest level and number of degrees offered.

Some of the factors measured by the magazine include: admission rate; percentage of students who return for sophomore year; student-faculty ratio; and four-year graduation rate. Criteria for cost includes: sticker prices; financial aid; and average student indebtedness at graduation.

"We salute this year's top schools," says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. "Balancing top-quality education with affordable cost is a challenge in today's economy, which is why Kiplinger's ratings are such a valuable resource."

Kiplinger's also for the first time collated a combined ranking of public and private institutions. Juniata ranked 178th in the combined poll, out of the 300 public and private colleges and universities ranked.

The combined rankings are dominated by private institutions because, "the average financial aid award is a little higher at private schools and so is the four-year graduation rate," says Kaitlin Pitsker, a Kiplinger's reporter who collated the data for the combined poll.

"Don't assume in-state public schools are always the least expensive option," wrote Bodnar in her explanation of the combined poll. "A private school could be even more affordable."

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.