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List names U. among top 50 public colleges

The University this month placed 48th on Kiplinger's '100 Best Values in Public Colleges 2009-10' list.

Kiplinger, a Washington, D.C.-based publisher of business and finance advice, used student-faculty ratios, academic competitiveness and on-time graduation rates as factors for placement on the list.

'We do pay close attention to the factors used in determining these rankings, especially when they reflect on the quality of education and the student experience at Rutgers, which we are always seeking to improve,' Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs Philip Furmanski said.

The University was No. 49 the year before.

The schools on the list also deliver an affordable education, another measure of value, by keeping the sticker price low and offering plenty of financial aid or both, according to Kiplinger's Web site.

Some students feel proud of the University's distinction, but others, like School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Dashmeet Singh, think the University should be higher in the rankings.'

Still, he thinks college costs remain high, even if it is in exchange for a good value.

'[The financial aid] is sufficient for tuition, but not for housing, having a meal plan or living on campus,' Singh said.' 'I used to live on campus but now commute since my aid didn't cover it.'

The high price of an education may affect the University's status on the list, but the amount of aid students receive can offset the cost, Furmanski said.

'We suffer in some rankings because of the relatively high tuition we must charge due to diminishing state support for the University,' he said.' 'This does not take into account the fact that we offer a substantial amount of aid to our students with limited resources.'

Rutgers-Camden College of Arts and Science' alumnus Jim Rhodes said he received sufficient financial aid during his time at the University.

'When I first attended, my aid was in the form of loans,' he said. 'When I returned in 1993 following a workplace accident, the State of New Jersey stepped in with grants to help me finish my degree.' Mine was a great experience.'

Enrollment at state institutions has increased as more students attend public universities and more people overall seek college degrees, according to Kiplinger's Web site. The faculty-to-student ratio was a factor in determining a school's ranking and could have hurt the University's ranking.

'I disagree. All the general classes have so many students, but they make up for it in recitations where there's a smaller number of student-teacher ratio,' Singh said.

Rankings can be useful and capture the public's attention, Furmanski said. But they must be taken with a grain of salt as they weigh factors arbitrarily and are often subjective.

More importantly, the University is always looking to improve those factors that will enhance the education of students and increase their competitiveness within their career path when they have completed their studies, he said.

'I just got back from a trip to California where I was wearing Rutgers shirts,' said Jason Goldstein, an alumnus of the Rutgers Business School.' 'People would say 'Wow!' You went to Rutgers?' You must be brilliant. Rutgers is a great school.' I think that says something very positive about the value of Rutgers.'

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