U.S. publications recognize Princeton as a top university

Princeton again has been recognized this year on national college ranking lists as a top university for its quality of education and leadership in financial aid.

The University was No. 1 in a new ranking of "America's Best Colleges" by Forbes.com, ranked No. 2 in the Best National Universities category in "U.S. News 2009 America's Best Colleges" by U.S. News & World Report, topped several categories in the Princeton Review, and ranked among the top 25 best colleges by Black Enterprise Magazine. U.S. News placed Princeton first for students graduating with the least debt and No. 2 among national universities for best value.

"While the University appreciates this recognition, formulaic rankings offer an inconsistent, and often inaccurate, picture of what individual colleges offer students, which is one reason many institutions don't rely on rankings to inform students about the educational and social opportunities we provide," Princeton officials said. "For example, this past year Princeton further improved its exceptional financial aid program and improved the quality of its undergraduate offerings, especially in the arts. The University also has recently received widespread recognition for a new program it will be introducing next year to provide year-long, international public service opportunities for admitted students before they begin their freshman years.

"We are pleased to be acknowledged as one of the nation's best universities, and we remain dedicated to demonstrating to interested students and their families the many ways we continue to improve the Princeton experience every year," officials added.

In the ranking created this year by Forbes magazine and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Princeton was recognized for its quality of education and the success of its students during and after college. Surveys of students' college experience, as well as data on the amount of student debt at graduation, were among the criteria used to evaluate institutions.

In a ranking released last month by the Princeton Review education service, the University was first in the categories of "students happy with financial aid" and "most beautiful campus." Princeton ranked No. 2 for best library facilities. The Princeton Review is a private firm not affiliated with the University, and ranked schools in its 2009 "The Best 368 Colleges" guide based on student survey responses to various elements of campus life.

Princeton also ranked well in the list of top 50 colleges for African American students by Black Enterprise magazine in its September issue. The survey examined data on student diversity and social life, graduation rates and quality of education.

The U.S. News rankings recognize that the University also continues to serve as a model for efforts to make education more affordable, leading the way in launching sweeping financial aid initiatives such as its 2001 elimination of loans from the financial aid package for all undergraduates, which allows students to graduate debt-free. The end of early admission is among the University's efforts to make Princeton more accessible to a broader pool of applicants.

The University's comprehensive aid plan helps moderate-, middle- and upper-middle-income families afford the cost of college, with substantial grants that cover up to the full cost of attending Princeton. An estimated 54 percent of Princeton's undergraduate student body is on financial aid, and 56 percent of the incoming class of 2012 will receive aid.

In addition to its rankings for financial aid, Princeton also was recognized by U.S. News on unranked lists for the experience engendered by the University's senior thesis requirement, opportunities for undergraduate research and the strong focus on writing.

"While many students consider ranking guides when selecting a university, it is important to note that no ranking can capture whether a school is the best choice for an individual student," Princeton officials said. "We always encourage students to use a variety of outstanding resources available to find the best match for them."