The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Making the cut: UW-Eau Claire on “best value” list

UW-Eau Claire often boasts being “excellent.” Living up to this claim, Eau Claire is one of 150 colleges that made The Princeton Review’s “Best Value” list for 2013. The list is composed of 75 private and 75 public colleges. Eau Claire and UW-Madison, both public schools, are the only universities from Wisconsin to make the cut.

According to The Princeton Review’s website, colleges that made the list were those that provided “stellar academics at an affordable cost.” They considered academics, cost and the amount of financial aid a student will receive. Data was both reported by each university and gathered through surveys of students.

Cost of tuition, fees, room and meals for one year at Eau Claire is listed as $15,000 on the university’s financial aid website. The amount for Madison is $18,963, according to their financial aid website.

Kris Anderson, the director of admissions, said many times families balk at the cost of college. She compared the cost of two years at Eau Claire to the cost of a new car; about $30,000. Most families don’t think twice about making a car payment, but see college as too expensive, she said. When talking with prospective students and their families, she said she has them question what the value of education is worth.

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“I don’t think there is any better investment you can make than investing in yourself,” Anderson said.

She said the tuition raises from the Blugold Commitment, which began in the 2010-2011 academic year, put Eau Claire’s cost closer to other area universities. The Blugold Commitment increased tuition by $1,200 per year. The hikes in tuition were phased throughout a four year period, with the last increase set for the 2013-2014 school year.

The extra money is used for faculty-student research, first year experience and capstone courses, internships and smaller classes, Anderson said. Experiences like these make Eau Claire reputable and notable to organizations like The Princeton Review, she said.

“When you look at a lot of those opportunities that students have here, you don’t get those in a lot of other places,” Anderson said. “I think that makes us a pretty good value.”

Senior Student Body President Corydon Fish said an essential part of the Blugold Commitment is the amount of control students have over where the money gets allocated. Students can direct the money to different areas of their education, adding to overall academic excellence, he said.

“I believe that the fact that students get to maintain control of those fees through Student Senate … allows us to get a better bang for our buck,” Fish said. “If we don’t like where $1,200 of our tuition is going, (we) can very easily change that.”

In making the decision, The Princeton Review analyzed the amount of financial aid students receive. They compare the cost of tuition with the amount of aid the school awards the student in terms of scholarships and grants, according to their website.

Sophomore public relations major Caitlyn Duley said she pays a lot less for her education than many of her friends that attend bigger universities. She said cost and financial aid played a part in her decision to come to Eau Claire.

“My parents don’t help me, so I’m paying for (college) myself, so I had to take that into consideration,” Duley said. “I definitely get enough help to be able to afford to come here.”

Not only is Eau Claire affordable, the education students receive makes the university a good fit for the list, Duley said. She compared her college experience with those of friends attending larger universities and said she pays less, but gets more.

“I think (Eau Claire) provides a very valuable education because every professor I’ve had is so experienced in their field,” she said. “I talk to friends and they have TAs teaching classes and that’s unheard of here.”

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Making the cut: UW-Eau Claire on “best value” list