Kaydee Hutchinson

Kaydee Hutchinson, Northeastern State University graduate, studies for the Law School Admission Test. NSU ranks seventh in best value among Oklahoma's colleges, according to a recent SmartAsset study.

Northeastern State University ranks seventh in best value among Oklahoma's colleges, according to a recent SmartAsset study.

SmartAsset released its fifth annual Best Value Colleges study, with the University of Tulsa maintaining the top spot in Oklahoma for the fifth year in the row.

Schools are ranked by their College Education Value Index, a value calculated by how closely each school ranks compared to the top U.S. school, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which received a score of 100.

TU received a score of 48.59, while NSU received a score of 27.21.

"In this study, colleges and universities are rated on metrics like starting salary, scholarships and grants provided, tuition costs, living expenses and retention rate," said A.J. Smith, SmartAsset Financial Education vice president. "Schools that perform well across all of these metrics will have a higher likelihood of ranking near the top."

While NSU is ranked below six other schools in Oklahoma overall, it still remains the most affordable.

"Cost was a major factor for me when picking schools," said Matt Lee, NSU graduate student. "NSU is affordable and offered a good program for health and human performance, the major I was interested in."

For these same reasons, Lee chooses to remain at NSU to pursue his master's degree in health administration.

"I already had the experience, family, friends and my dance company here at NSU, so I decided to stay," said Lee. "It would be easier than moving out of town or out of state for school. It just made sense to me."

When asked about NSU's take on the SmartAsset study, Dr. Ben Hardcastle, University Relations vice president, pointed to the variety of fields graduates enter.

"NSU continues to be a regional leader in many academic fields," said Hardcastle. "Our graduates become school superintendents, optometrists, business leaders, nationally known entertainers, tech-savvy entrepreneurs and government leaders. Our approach provides a wide range of experiential learning opportunities geared for students right out of area high schools or adult students who are determined to 'finish what they started.'"

While the study is indicative of how NSU compares to other Oklahoma colleges, Hardcastle believes the numbers are not all-inclusive.

"There are hundreds, if not thousands, of college-ranking web pages," said Hardcastle. "In this ranking, it appears that the 'starting salary' number might have been heavily weighted, compared with other categories. I also noticed it cited tuition only, excluding fees that each student must pay. The fees charged at some of the institutions for some courses are quite high."

As NSU strives to improve the quality of its education, future SmartAsset studies may rank the university higher.

"All of our programs are evaluated by national accrediting bodies that hold us to the highest standards," said Hardcastle. "We encourage scholarship and research among our faculty and are dedicated to continuous improvement in every area."

Check it out

For more information on the SmartAsset study, including a nationwide university ranking, visit smartasset.com/student-loans/student-loan-calculator#oklahoma.

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