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July 29, 2014

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Education:

UNLV, UNR on ‘A-List’ of nation’s top colleges based on academics, economics

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Students sit outside the student union on the campus of UNLV Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

UNLV ranks among the top 25 best-value colleges in the country, according to collegeatlas.org.

On Tuesday, collegeatlas.org — a higher education website — released its “A-List” college rankings, which looked at 100 universities nationally and ranked them on three factors: academic quality, accessibility and affordability.

UNLV came in 20th nationally and 10th among western universities, according to the rankings. The website lists UNLV’s in-state tuition as $6,670 per year, its acceptance rate as 88 percent and its enrollment at 27,402 students.

UNR also made the list, coming in at 17th nationally and ninth among western universities. The website lists UNR’s in-state tuition as $6,154 per year, its acceptance rate as 83 percent and its enrollment at 18,227 students.

Iowa State University was first, followed by the University of Utah, University of Wyoming, Brigham Young University in Utah and Murray State University in Kentucky.

The “A-List” rankings are different than other best-value rankings because they do not include federal, state and institutional financial aid calculations, according to collegeatlas.org. By including financial aid in the ranking’s calculations, expensive and highly selective schools such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale often make other “bang-for-your-buck” rankings.

“The schools at the top of traditional college rankings are exclusive and expensive,” Branden Neish, collegeatlas.org’s general manager, said in a statement. “That’s great for students with 4.0 GPAs and sky-high test scores, but there are other amazing universities out there that provide high-quality academics with higher acceptance rates and a reasonable price tag.”

Collegeatlas.org weighted academic quality, affordability and accessibility as follows to come up with its rankings:

• Academic quality, which accounted for 45 percent of the ranking’s calculations, was based on the U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges” rankings.

• Affordability, which counts for 30 percent of the ranking’s calculations, was based on annual in-state tuition rates. Most students nationally pay under $10,000 annually for in-state tuition.

• Accessibility was based on a university’s acceptance rate (20 percent of ranking calculation) and enrollment size (5 percent of ranking calculation). Most "A-List” schools accept more than 80 percent of applicants.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama suggested a new college ranking system that would judge universities “not just by which is the most selective, not just by which is the most expensive, not just by the one with the best facilities … but by the one that is the biggest bang for the buck.”

Collegeatlas.org officials said it was among the first nationally to deliver on the type of list Obama suggested in August.

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