By John Van Winkle
Academy Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Academy was named as one of the nation’s top 100 best value colleges for 2010 today by The Princeton Review.
The Best Values College List features 50 public and 50 private colleges. The Princeton Review selected these institutions as its “best value” choices for 2010 based on its surveys of administrators and students at more than 650 public and private colleges and universities.
“The Air Force Academy is proud to be named along with these other great institutions,” said Brig. Gen. Dana Born, dean of the faculty. “We continue to strive to deliver a challenging and inspiring academic experience for all our students. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to preparing these young men and women to serve as 21st century officer leaders of character for our Air Force and the nation.”
The Princeton Review has also recognized the Air Force Academy’s academic prowess in previous years. In Princeton Review’s Annual Best Colleges book, it has named the Academy in the nation’s top 1 percent of all colleges for professor availability for the past five years, as well as highlighting other Academy academic strengths such as an average class size of 20, and zero classes taught by teaching assistants.
In its profile of the Air Force Academy, the editors of the Princeton Review state that “cadets endure painfully hard academics, military instruction, and an overall strictly regimented existence. The workload is monstrous – more than the average human being could possibly complete, really. If you can make it through this four-year gauntlet, though, an Air Force diploma is an awesome credential. You will almost certainly leave here with a knack for leadership and a skill set that will impress your friends.”
The selection criteria covered more than 30 factors in three areas: academics, costs of attendance, and financial aid, using the most recently reported date from each institution for its 2008-2009 academic year.
Among that data noted by the Princeton Review is the Academy’s student-faculty ratio of 9:1.
“Academically, classes are tiny, and, by all accounts, the professors here are very good and committed to students. Extra help is copious. However, the faculty is also incredibly demanding. The extensive core curriculum is grueling and heavy on science and engineering, and you’ll be taking several difficult courses in a typical semester,” said the report.
With the current tough economic times, families and students have serious concerns about paying for college, says Robert Franek, publisher of The Princeton Review. “Among the nearly 16,000 respondents to our 2009 “College Hopes and Worries Survey,” of college applicants and parents, 85 percent said financial aid would be “very necessary” for them this year,” he said. “However, there are many first-rate institutions offering outstanding academics at a relatively low cost of attendance and/or generous financial aid, including some that may surprise applicants.”
The financial aspects of attending a service academy were also noted in the Princeton Review’s summary of the Air Force Academy.
“While life inside and outside the classroom at the Air Force Academy is a monumental challenge, the financial aspects are downright cushy. It doesn’t cost a dime to attend. Tuition, which the Academy estimates to be worth a few hundred thousand dollars, is entirely free. Room and board is free. You get free medical and dental care. You’ll be issued a personal computer. You even get a nominal monthly stipend,” said the report.
Among the other 99 colleges on the Best Values Colleges list are the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. In Colorado, only the Air Force Academy and University of Colorado-Boulder made this year’s list. For more on the best values college list, go to: www.usatoday.com/news/education/best-value-colleges.htm.