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Public Ivy Schools for 2015--Going By the ?Virginia Rule?

Uploaded: Mar 20, 2015
Elizabeth LaScala Ph.D. guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admission. Elizabeth helps students identify majors and career paths, and develops best match college lists; she offers personalized essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students tackle each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth guides students from all backgrounds to maximize scholarship opportunities and financial aid awards. For more information visit Elizabeth Call (925) 385-0562 or email her at

As he has done over the last few years, Stuart Nachbar, one of America's leading commentators on higher education, expertly compiles a list of schools, each one being an institution that he would consider to be a "Public Ivy."

During the first year that he tried to compile a Public Ivy list, he insisted on schools that had a freshman retention rate that was better than 90 percent. That was because Ivy League schools retain a high percentage of their freshman classes, and the thinking was that Public Ivy schools should also have very high retention rates. However, as he visited more colleges, Stuart learned that some schools fall a little short of that mark for 'good' reasons, such as having a high concentration of students in "harder" majors such as engineering; those students may choose to leave a college with such a technical focus. The same reasoning could account for slightly lower four year graduate rates, since students in rigorous majors may take a lighter course load so they can maintain strong GPAs and take a little longer to graduate.

Then there was the issue of costs. Stuart excluded schools that have appeared on other Public Ivy lists because they charged too much for in-state or out-of-state tuition. The reasoning was that Ivy League schools discount their costs to many students, but they rarely approach the in-state tuition and fees of the state universities of their applicant's home states. At the same time, the out-of-state charges of these schools should represent a discount off the costs charged by the private Ivies. But schools such as the University of California campuses, the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia charge out-of-state tuition and fees in excess of $40,000. For 2014-15 University of Virginia is at the top with tuition and fees totaling $42,184, approximately $1,000 more than Princeton.

However, in 2014-15 Stuart decided not to consider in-state tuition and fees. Each state has a different policy towards their state colleges and universities, and direct and meaningful comparisons would be beyond the scope of Stuart's analysis. In some cases, the in-state charges may not be a bargain compared to the in-state charges in another state, but the out-of-state charges may be quite competitive with the out-of-state charges of other schools. For example, Penn State-University Park charges approximately $17,000 for in-state tuition and fees. Yet the out-of-state charges of approximately $30,500 are quite competitive with those of schools such the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan and the room and board is less expensive, too.

So, this year there were only two rules for Public Ivy schools:

1) They must charge an out-of-state sticker price for tuition and fees, room and board that is lower than the University of Virginia charges for tuition and fees alone. This is called the "Virginia Rule." A lot of schools failed this test, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Texas-Austin. Penn State barely passed, and with a difference of only $66, Stuart also 'passed' the University of Delaware?a generous move I think for such a solid university.
2) They must graduate at least 75 percent of a freshman class within six years. This takes into account the different types of schools and their academic programs.

Given these two standards, here are the Public Ivy schools for 2014-15:

? Binghamton University (NY)
? Clemson University (SC)
? Florida State University
? Georgia Institute of Technology
? James Madison University (VA)
? Miami University of Ohio
? Penn State-University Park
? Ramapo College of New Jersey
? Rutgers University-New Brunswick
? St. Mary's College of Maryland
? SUNY-Geneseo
? Texas A&M University (main campus)
? The College of New Jersey
? The Ohio State University
? United States Air Force Academy
? United States Coast Guard Academy
? United States Merchant Marine Academy
? United State Military Academy
? United States Naval Academy
? University of Delaware (off by only $66, insignificant to me)
? University of Florida
? University of Georgia
? University of Maryland-College Park
? University of Mary Washington (VA)
? University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
? University of New Hampshire
? University of Wisconsin-Madison
? Virginia Tech

I realize that there will be comments such as "Rutgers? Rutgers is not as good as the University of Michigan. How could Rutgers be a 'Public Ivy'?" The major point is that a Public Ivy must not only attract and retain excellent students; it must also educate them for significantly less than those students would pay to attend an Ivy League school. All of these schools pass that test.
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Posted by Downtown, a resident of Foxborough Estates,
on Mar 21, 2015 at 1:54 pm

This is one of the most stupid lists I've ever seen. When something is dubbed an "Ivy," it means that it is considered one of the best. None of the schools on this list (save the military academies) would be considered amongst the BEST public schools in America. None of them compete against a Berkeley, Michigan, UVa or UNC. I understand the author's reason regarding price tag, but she seems blithely unaware that many school (i.e. UVa in particular) don't charge lower/middle income students the full price of attending it...because they offer grants, loans, scholarship, and work-study programs.

Posted by Stuart Nachbar, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2015 at 1:49 pm

First of all, Dr. LaScala cited my views on what constitutes of a ?Public Ivy.? Comments about her being ?blithely unaware? are inappropriate. Direct them to me instead.

Next, no one, not even the people who represent Ivy League schools, are arrogant enough to claim that the education that they offer is ?the best.? Different schools fit the abilities, learning styles and needs of different people. The fact that a school has a profile of high academic achievers from high school and/or turns away the vast majority of people who apply does not make it ?better? than other schools. Selectivity is a function of supply, in this case available seats in a freshman class, as well as demand, the numbers of people who want a seat. In the case of higher education selectivity is not a measure of the quality of the service that students and their families receive. The ability to deny service is not a measure of quality.

Next, cost is very important to the definition of a Public Ivy. I work on the idea that all students who attend a Public Ivy should pay much less than those who attend an Ivy League school, even if they are non residents. The University of Virginia, University of Michigan and the University of California-Berkeley charge in excess of $40,000 to non residents. These charges are quite close to the sticker price of an Ivy League school.

If a non-resident student were admitted to, for example, Cornell or Penn, as well as the University of Virginia, by the commenter?s reasoning, then UVa. is the equal of the Ivy League school. However, UVa. is asking that accepted student to pay at least the same as s/he would pay Cornell or Penn, even after subtracting need-based aid (Cornell, Penn and UVa are all ?need blind?).

I don?t blame schools like Michigan and UVa., among others, for their pricing decisions. These schools have long histories of accepting students from other states. Their senior enrollment managers know that they will attract non-residents who are willing to pay the full price. Most of the non-residents need to be full-pay students, otherwise UVa. would not be able to keep costs reasonable for Virginians.

UVa.?s financial aid program, called AccessUVa., is a promise to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for all accepted students?by their own financial aid formula. The average student loan debt of UVa. graduates is low, just over $12,000, while a quarter of Virginians (not non-residents), according to the University?s financial aid office, have no loans at all. That sounds impressive.

However, according to UVa.?s financial aid office, the University found that only 34 percent of admitted freshmen had demonstrated financial need. I will also add that UVa. has a lower percentage of Pell Grant recipients (around 12 percent) than either Cornell or Penn (both around 17 percent) according to the Education Trust?s College Results Online. UVa. also has a lower percentage of under-represented minority students (around 12 percent) than either Cornell or Penn (both around 15 percent). This is interesting given that UVa. is a flagship state university that has as many undergraduates as Cornell, and around 5,000 more than Penn. I will bet that every Ivy League university has granted scholarship assistance, whether need-based or merit-based, to a higher percentage of their freshman classes than UVa.

If the vast majority of UVa. students were deemed to have no need, although some received non-need based awards (athletes, ROTC, Echols and Jefferson Scholars, among others), then the vast majority of UVa. students, residents and non residents, are paying the sticker price for their education. If someone were to tell me that UVa. is a Public Ivy for Virginia residents, I would not argue. However, it is not a Public Ivy for the non-Virginians. It is an "Ivy-wannabee" for those who can get in and are willing to pay the asking price.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I have friends in Asia that want their kids to go to Berkeley, no matter the costs, it is Berkeley or bust. Much to the distaste of my friends in California, whose kids cannot get into Berkeley because of the of non residents being accepted into Berkeley.

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Mar 22, 2015 at 6:39 pm


Virgina Tech and Georgia Tech would both typically be considered "amongst the BEST public schools in America".

Posted by ?, a resident of Amador Estates,
on Mar 24, 2015 at 7:10 am

How about College of William and Mary?

Posted by S, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 25, 2015 at 7:56 pm

This is really pretty silly. Public Ivy? Why don't you just call them good cheap schools? They do not seem to have much in common with a real Ivy. You really think cost and retention rates are the most salient features of an Ivy League school? There must be dozens of other qualities much more important to people who seek out those schools. Your list just seems like a sophisticated marketing ploy.

Posted by beentheredonethat, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 26, 2015 at 8:18 pm

Undergrad is really irrelevant these days anyway. It is really what you do once you get into school. Most of my closest friends are all MBAs out of Harvard. Where fid the go to undergrad, well average schools. Do well where you go and learn to test well. Have some character that makes you interesting!

Engineers have a pedigree to a degree, no pun intended. However, I had a ton of Stanford and other fancy pants MBAs and engineers working under me. Here's a slice of reality, Smart bus people do not care where you went to school if you can bring in business, or add to bottom libe by inventing, or adding value.

I will hire a personable individual that can charm and solve problems over some snotty Ivy Leager every time, unless his super rich Mom and Dad are investing to get there kid hired. Business follows the ability to transact well.

Twain, paraphrased, "don't let your schoolwork interfear with your education".

Some of the stupidest people I have met are 35 year old MBA's who think they learned everything they needed to know in business school.

Go to Chico, SaC State, Hayward, or better yet JC and then somewhere 4 yr and save your cash for grad school if that's your plan. Grad schools do not care where you went undergrad . Think that's not true well you are probably making your living taking money to advise people on college. It is 100 percent true. All they look at is test score, how you applied yourself and ability to pay. They hate drop out stats do to inability to oay, it skews there marketing stats.

Engineers, you are worker bees to bus. people. They will replace you with outsourced talent, or younger cheaper talent if they can. Howrver, if you add to the bottom line you are in good shape as long ad you do so, granted you dont piss people off.

So young people go get educated, learn not minutia, but how to aquire knoweledge to solve problems and make money for who you wiork for!

Yea, I probably spelled somethings wrong and made plenty of typos on my iphone. However, this fat thumbed exec only has an undergrad degree and was an average student grade wise, but I have had the fortune to do well financially and all the former McKensy guys from that school in Boston call me for no BS advice on how to get things done. School is about providing you the structure for learnig, teaching yourself to aquire knoweledge that is useful for business and moe importantly your soul.

Get skills that are marketable!!! Learn how to solve a problem and don't, don't be boring! Boring eorker bees always have an expiration date, no matter where they went to school!!!

Think ROI on where you go!!!!

PS My kids went to JC! Then tranfsfered to 4 yr. Neither took the SAT, or ACT until they completed a year of JC. Both were decent highschool students, with hard work and could have gone straight to 4 yr. Ones no a surgeon and the other a bus person with more BS added.

For all you C/B-students and atheletes, don't let the talking college heads get you down!! They just want to take your parents nervous money! Go forth, learn, work hard, apply yourself and don't listen to them!!!!

PS That Public IVY list is the biggest crock ever. It's diareah of the keyboard.

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