August 2, 2011 — AccessUVa, the University of Virginia's financial aid program, is rated as the best in the nation among public institutions in the Princeton Review's 2012 edition of its popular guidebook, "The Best 376 Colleges," published today.
Among all schools, public and private, U.Va.'s financial aid program came in third behind Swarthmore College and Princeton University, based on survey results from students. Also ranked is the University's library, No. 14 overall and No. 2 among public institutions. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was first.
About 15 percent of the nation's colleges and universities are profiled in the Princeton Review guidebook. Schools are selected based on institutional data, visits, feedback from students and the opinions of its staff and 28-member National College Counselor Advisory Board, according to Robert Franek, Princeton Review's senior vice president for publishing and author of "The Best 376 Colleges."
"Each of our 376 best colleges offers outstanding academics," Franek said. "We don't rank them hierarchically, 1 to 376, because they differ widely – and importantly – in their program offerings and campus culture, and that is their strength. Our goal is not to crown one college 'best' overall, but to help applicants find and get in to the college best for them."
Rankings in 62 categories, from extracurriculars to classroom experience to town life, are based on surveys of 122,000 students (about 325 per campus) during the 2010-11 and/or two previous years. The 80-question survey asks students to rate and comment on their schools' academics, administration, campus life, student body and themselves. A college's appearance on a list is entirely the result of a high consensus among its surveyed students about a topic compared with that of students at other schools answering the same survey on the ranking list topic.
Schools are also scored on a scale of 60 to 99 in eight categories. U.Va. received the following ratings:
Financial Aid: 94
Fire Safety: 73
Professors Interesting: 82
Professors Accessible: 78
Quality of Life: 88
Introduced in 2008, the "Green rating" of a school's commitment to environmental policies, practices and education was developed in partnership with ecoAmerica, a non-profit environmental organization.
In a related ranking, released in January and cited in "The Best 376 Colleges," The Princeton Review and USA Today gave U.Va. the top ranking among all public schools in their "Best Value Colleges" list for 2011. This is the third consecutive year U.Va. has been recognized as the best value among public institutions.
The Princeton Review is known for its tutoring and classroom test preparation courses, books and college and graduate school admission services. Its corporate headquarters are in Framingham, Mass., and editorial offices are in New York City. It is not affiliated with Princeton University.
The Princeton Review posts the school profiles and ranking lists in "The Best 376 Colleges" on its website at which users can read FAQs about the book, the survey and the criteria for each of the ratings and rankings.