Purdue University ranks seventh nationally in SmartMoney magazine's college "payback" survey, which quantifies the long-term value of a college education. In 2010, Purdue was ranked ninth.
Public universities dominated the survey, taking the top 18 positions of the 50 ranked. "If our payback survey were a football game, the public schools would be spiking the ball in the end zone and kissing the mascots," reported the August edition of the magazine, which is produced by the Wall Street Journal.
"This survey shows that a degree from Purdue University has great value in the marketplace," said Timothy D. Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. "We offer an excellent education and attract top students to our flagship campus in West Lafayette. After graduating, our graduates make a difference in the world, and some of that impact is reflected in their salaries."
A Wall Street Journal survey of corporate recruiters in 2010 ranked Purdue fourth nationally in preparing its students for the workforce.
To rank the best buys, the magazine highlights the relationship between tuition costs and graduates' earning power. To determine each school's "payback" ratio, the magazine started with a list of 50 four-year institutions from three categories: Ivy League, private liberal arts and public. Data from a survey by PayScale.com, a consultant and online salary database, was used to look at median salaries alumni are earning at two career stages: recent graduates (an average of two years after graduation) and midcareer (an average of 15 years after graduation).
The median salary for Purdue graduates two years after graduation was $50,700, with out-of-state degree costs of $86,538 (class of 2009). Purdue graduates' median salary 15 years after graduation was $88,000, with out-of-state degree costs of $36,730 (class of 1996), according to the data. The analysis of cost did not include financial aid or the in-state tuition discount.
Tuition at Purdue for the 2011-12 academic year is $9,478 for in-state students and $27,646 for out-of-state students. The average SAT score for freshmen in fall 2010 – the latest figures available – was 1717 on the critical reading, math and writing sections.
The University of Illinois, at No. 5, was the only other Big Ten university in the top 10. The Georgia Institute of Technology ranked first. Indiana University was 11th.