In the midst of today’s struggling economy, tuition costs may be the deciding factor for those going off to college, making a private education seemingly out of reach. However, recent research from Kiplinger reveals that the actual value of private universities may prove this assumption wrong.

The publisher ranked 100 private universities and 100 liberal arts colleges as the best values in price when considering the quality of education. Out of the 76 private institutions in California, Azusa Pacific University was 1 of only 11 to make the list.

“Azusa Pacific University is on this list because we’re getting better about our discounts, and we have always been great about the value of the experience here,” said Creighton Dent ’06, M.S. ’10, assistant director of marketing and communications in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Senior Director of Undergraduate Admissions Dave Burke seconds the unique value the university offers. “Schools like APU offer a significantly different value and educational experience than schools that don’t have a Christ-centered component,” Burke said.

Current APU graduate student Kyle Cleveland '10 transferred to APU to experience such a Christian education. “I chose APU because its people were unlike any I had seen at the 10 colleges I previewed,” he said. “I received some scholarships to attend APU, but as I look back on my experience, it would have been worth paying full price. It's the best investment I've ever made, and it will pay me back for the rest of my life. From APU, I will take my relationships, reputation, and redefined perspective to advance the work of God in the world.”

Kiplinger uses specific criteria to assess which institutions are the best values, including: “small class size, a high-achieving incoming class, a satisfied clientele (measured by how many students return after freshman year) and graduation rates that reflect the school’s ability to deliver its education—and a degree—within four or five years.”1

“I look at the ivy league schools that my high school peers chose to attend, and I realize the experience I've received at APU is unmatchable and well worth the price,” said senior marketing major Nina Karim. “The support and guidance from the faculty here is unheard of at other universities, and the dedication of professors and the attention we receive makes it the best value by far.”

Students at APU enjoy the advantages a smaller university can provide, such as 92 percent of them receiving financial aid and the personalized education that comes with a 14 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. “What’s amazing [about APU’s ranking] is that, if you see what’s on that list from 1 to 100, the colleges get significantly larger in size, stature, and endowment,” said Dent. “Many make the list because they offer discounts to a certain type of student. But at APU, where the resources are more limited, we’re great at distributing financial assistance to students who would be a good fit here.”

Factors such as APU’s 86 percent freshman retention rate and 55 percent four-year graduation rate have also earned APU rankings from other organizations, such as U.S.News & World Report, Washington Monthly, and more. These achievements assure current and prospective students that an Azusa Pacific University diploma is evidence of a superior and affordable education.

1 Kiplinger, “Best Values in Private Colleges,” (accessed December 10, 2010).