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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 30, 2006

UH, HPU among best deals

By Patrick Cole
Bloomberg News Service

Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and University of California-Berkeley are among the top 10 public and private colleges offering the best education for the money, according to a survey by The Princeton Review Inc.

Swarthmore ranked ninth on the list of private colleges that offer strong academics and financial aid programs, The Princeton Review's "America's Best Value Colleges" survey found.

UC-Berkeley ranked ninth among U.S. public universities, according to the survey, which narrowed its top 10 lists from 150 schools.

The University of Hawai'i-Manoa was listed among the 150 best values among public universities, and Hawai'i Pacific University was among the 150 best values among private universities, officials said.

Students and parents face climbing college expenses each year as the average four-year private college expenses rose 5.9 percent to $21,235 in 2005-06, according to the College Board, a New York research organization that produces the SAT test. About 60 percent of U.S. college students receive some form of grant aid to meet their expenses, the College Board said.

"We keep the loan element of our financial aid awards low to leave more room for scholarships," said Laura Talbot, Swarthmore's director of financial aid.

"We want to keep students' debt burden manageable."

Swarthmore charged $41,280 for tuition, fees and room and board this year, according to its Web site.

WEIGHING THE FIELD

Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, was the best-rated private school, followed by Berea College in Kentucky, which doesn't charge tuition and lets students work a job to defray their instruction cost.

New College of Florida in Sarasota, Fla., ranked first among public colleges.

Princeton Review selected its lists from a field of 646 institutions in the United States that had high academic standards, Robert Franek, vice president of Princeton Review's book publishing unit, said by phone.

The company looked at more than 30 factors including academics, students' grade-point average and the size of financial aid packages awarded to students, he said.

"These schools are not necessarily the ones with the lowest price tag, they're the ones that offer the best bang for the buck a combination of the best financial aid and the best education," said Kal Chany, president of Campus Consultants Inc., a New York-based financial aid consultant. He is the author of "Paying for College Without Going Broke."

MANY RECEIVE AID

The survey said Berkeley, which charges residents $3,717 for undergraduate tuition and fees and nonresidents $12,627, provides need-based aid to 98 percent of all applicants.

The university awarded $214 million in aid to Berkeley undergraduates last school year, said Richard Black, Berkeley's associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment.

"We are an excellent investment for any student, particularly for any California student who is coming here," Black said.

Swarthmore was chosen because it "meets 100 percent of demonstrated need" of its students, the survey said.

About 50 percent of Swarthmore's 1,461 students receive an average financial aid package of $28,474, Talbot said.

About 86 percent of a student's aid package is grant money, 8 percent consists of loan aid and 6 percent is work-study income, she said.

Advertiser staff writer Loren Moreno contributed to this report.

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