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
? 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.