Purdue University ranks eighth nationally in SmartMoney magazine's college "payback" survey, which quantifies the long-term value of a college education. In 2011 Purdue was ranked seventh.
The magazine, which is produced by the Wall Street Journal, noted public universities again dominated the survey, holding the top 17 of the 50 slots.
"This is more evidence that a Purdue degree pays off," said Victor Lechtenberg, acting provost and chief academic officer. "Purdue has great value because we offer an excellent education at a reasonable price. That attracts the top students."
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 three years after graduation) and midcareer (an average of 15 years after graduation).
The median salary for Purdue graduates two years after graduation was $51,800, with out-of-state degree costs of $66,538 (class of 2009). Purdue graduates' median salary 15 years after graduation was $87,200, with out-of-state degree costs of $39,168 (class of 1997), according to the data. The analysis of cost did not include financial aid or the in-state tuition rate.
Tuition at Purdue for the 2012-13 academic year is $9,900 for in-state students and $28,702 for out-of-state students. The average SAT score for freshmen this fall is 1749 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 was ranked first.