College

Diversified Asset Management, Inc. – 2018 1st Quarter Newsletter

This quarter’s newsletter is filled with lots of great information. Here is a list of topics included in this newsletter.

 

Seven Steps To Protect Yourself After Data Breach

On September 7, 2017, one of the "big three" credit reporting agencies in the country dropped a bombshell. Equifax had been hacked, and almost 150 million Americans may have had their credit histories exposed. It was one   of the largest cyber-breaches in history, and while it's difficult to get a handle on exact numbers, suffice to say that it's quite likely your information was compromised.

The myRa Is Cut Short, But Other Options Abound

The myRA is going the way of the VCR. Citing unsustainable costs, the Treasury Department has announced it is closing down the program for this retirement savings vehicle. Participants will be notified about their options for moving funds into other investments.

Four Smart Tools For College Savings

The cost of a college education isn't getting any cheaper.

According to the College Board, average annual tuition and fees for a four-year public college for the 2016- 17 school year was $24,930 for out-of- staters and a year at a private college cost $34,480. And those sobering price tags are increasing much faster than the overall cost of living.

Five Steps When You Inherit Assets

During the next 30 years or so, an estimated $30 trillion is expected to change hands, and many offspring of older Baby Boomers may inherit a small fortune. Here are five practical suggestions for handling the windfall:

Key Components Of A Post-Divorce Estate Plan

Even the best-laid plans can go astray if you get divorced from a long-time spouse. Especially if you go your separate ways after raising children and acquiring property together, your estate plan may need to be revised, and pronto.

 

To read the newsletter click on the link below:

Diversified Asset Management, Inc. – 2018 1st Quarter Newsletter

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

10 Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career

Here is a nice article by Stacy Rapacon of Kiplinger:

 

By Stacy Rapacon, Online Editor | September 2017

 

College is often considered the surest path to a lucrative career. After all, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a worker with a bachelor's degree typically earns two-thirds more than someone with just a high school diploma.

 

But not all college degrees are created equal. “Increasingly, students want to understand the career and income opportunities associated with their college education,” says Lydia Frank, PayScale vice president, in a statement.

 

To determine which majors typically come with the best hiring prospects and pay, we analyzed data for 126 popular college majors. We looked for courses of study that tend to lead to fat paychecks—both right out of school and farther along your career path. We also sought out majors that are in high demand based on recent online job postings as well as long-term growth expectations for related occupations. Plus, we factored in the percentage of workers with given degrees who feel their jobs are having a positive impact on the world because having a sense of purpose can be just as important as having a good payday.

 

Our top 10 majors present interested scholars with the best shots at success and satisfaction in the workplace, complete with generous incomes and an abundance of job opportunities. Check out the best college majors for a lucrative career. (Spoiler alert: STEM majors—that is, fields in science, technology, engineering and math—dominate our rankings.)

 

For each of the 126 college majors, compensation research firm PayScale provided median annual salaries for entry-level workers (with five years or less of work experience) and mid-career employees (with at least 10 years of experience). PayScale also provided “high job meaning” scores, which indicate the percentage of workers with given college majors who say their work makes the world a better place. Workforce research firm Burning Glass Technologies supplied the number of online job postings listed between the third quarter of 2016 and the second quarter of 2017 that were seeking applicants with each of the 126 college majors. Projected 10-year growth rates from 2016 to 2026 for related occupations came from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), a labor-market research firm owned by CareerBuilder. EMSI collects data from more than 90 federal, state and private sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In finalizing our rankings, we combin ed some similar majors to avoid redundancy.

 

10. Finance

 

•Starting salary: $53,300 (median for all majors: $43,250)

•Mid-career salary: $93,200 (median for all majors: $74,700)

•Annual online job postings: 1.4 million

•Related job: Financial Analyst

•Projected 10-year job growth: 13.1% (all occupations: 8.6%)

 

At Kiplinger, we totally get that money matters can be complex, and many of us—especially the growing number of people rapidly approaching retirement age—need help understanding and managing them. No wonder workers with financial knowledge are in such high demand. New regulations, more products and increasingly complex investment portfolios don’t hurt either. And that need translates into plenty of opportunities and generous pay for workers in this field. Financial analysts, who evaluate investment opportunities for businesses, earn a median salary of more than $80,100 a year. Personal financial advisers, who are expected to add 23.8% more positions by 2026, typically earn about $86,800 a year.

 

Finance isn’t strictly considered a STEM field, but you can still expect to work with numbers a great deal. High school students interested in finance can prepare for this major by studying statistics and calculus. In college, you'll add to your schedule accounting, financial markets and investing, as well as microeconomics, macroeconomics and economic theory. If you pursue a bachelor of arts degree in this field, you likely have to take liberal arts and foreign language classes, too.

 

9. Actuarial Mathematics

 

•Starting salary: $56,400

•Mid-career salary: $131,700

•Annual online job postings: 25,613

•Related job: Actuary

•Projected 10-year job growth: 17.5%

 

You'll find little risk in pursuing an actuarial career. These professionals—who work in the insurance and finance industries, analyzing the costs of risk and uncertainty—are in high demand. New and ever-changing health care laws and financial regulations help drive companies' needs for their services, and their usefulness is well compensated: Actuaries enjoy a median salary of more than $97,000 a year. For even better pay, an actuarial degree can also lead you to becoming a financial manager, who typically earns nearly $116,500 a year. In general, actuarial mathematics leads to the second-highest mid-career salary of all our 126 majors.

 

Expect your graphing-calculator usage to be exponentially higher in college. You likely already warmed it up in high school with advanced placement calculus or statistics. In college, you can expect to take micro- and macroeconomics, probability and risk theory courses, too.

 

8. Physics

 

•Starting salary: $58,000

•Mid-career salary: $108,000

•Annual online job postings: 115,056

•Best related job: Physicist

•Projected 10-year job growth: 11.0%

 

It won't take much force to accelerate a physics major toward a lucrative career (regardless of mass). While the clearest career path to take with this degree leads to work as a physicist, you typically need to get an advanced degree along the way. (It might be worth the extended and more expensive journey, if you’re so inclined: Physicists do have a promising projected job growth rate and a generous median annual salary of nearly $111,600.) Other jobs to consider with a bachelor's in physics include aerospace engineer, computer engineer or civil engineer—all of which offer above-average growth projections and pay.

 

Various physics classes including computational, modern and nuclear physics obviously will fill your schedule. You should also be prepared to do a lot of math, work on experiments both independently and with classmates, and apply your problem-solving skills.

 

7. Business Administration

 

•Starting salary: $46,300

•Mid-career salary: $76,800

•Annual online job postings: 3.7 million

•Best related job: Operations Manager

•Projected 10-year job growth: 11.2%

 

If you want to spend your college years studying how to be boss, this would be a great major for you. It certainly worked out well for billionaire Warren Buffett, who holds a bachelor’s degree in this field from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While a business administration major might not strictly fall into the STEM classification, you should probably get comfortable with numbers if you want to study it. Possible courses include accounting, statistics and economics, along with slightly less numerically focused classes such as business ethics and law, marketing and business policy and strategy.

 

And though you’re preparing for a career aimed at the top of the job ladder, with this major, you maintain a wide reach for where your career can go, in terms of industry. Workers with this degree wind up in a diverse array of jobs, including accountants, sales supervisors, financial managers and many other management positions. With such workplace agility, no wonder 76.3% of former business administration majors are employed full time, according to the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, which promotes U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.

 

6. Management Information Systems

 

•Starting salary: $57,900

•Mid-career salary: $101,300

•Annual online job postings: 2.6 million

•Related job: Computer and Information Systems Manager

•Projected 10-year job growth: 17.9%

 

Combining tech savvy with leadership abilities can be a winning career formula. Information systems focuses on the study of implementing technology within a company or organization. The management portion of your studies homes in on the business side of the field. In addition to your computer courses, you will study sociology and psychology, Internet ethics and project management. In fact, many universities offer this degree through their business schools.

 

Your MIS degree can lead you to many different computer-related career paths. Among the most common and highest paid positions is as an information systems manager. On top of the above-average growth in demand, this job earns a median $130,400 a year. But it will take at least a few years of work experience to climb to this management role. And many employers prefer candidates with MBAs. With a bachelor's, you can break into the field as a computer systems analyst, who can expect to earn median pay of more than $85,000 a year and enjoy a projected long-term growth rate of 22.0%.

 

5. Computer Science

 

•Starting salary: $65,900

•Mid-career salary: $110,100

•Annual online job postings: 2.0 million

•Related job: Software Developer

•Projected 10-year job growth: 21.6%

 

It should be no surprise that computer-related fields frequent this list of best college majors. Computers are everywhere, and people who know how to make, modify and master the machines are in high demand—and compensated in kind. Developers of both applications and systems software (among our Best Jobs for the Future) typically earn about $96,461 and $103,083 a year, respectively.

 

Along with computer science majors, students focusing on computer engineering and software engineering have promising career prospects, too. Software engineering majors go on to earn an annual median salary of $104,300 after ten years on the job. Those entering the field now can find 760,530 online job postings seeking their degrees. Computer engineering majors do even better with median mid-career pay of $116,000 and over 1.5 million online job postings.

 

All these majors take a lot of technology-focused classes, of course, such as computer science and programming. Business and communications classes can help, too, since many employers prefer high-tech workers with business skills and communication capabilities on top of standard tech savvy.

 

4. Mechanical Engineering

 

•Starting salary: $64,000

•Mid-career salary: $106,800

•Annual online job postings: 241,345

•Related job: Mechanical Engineer

•Projected 10-year job growth: 9.4%

 

In the broadest of engineering fields, these majors study machines, including what they’re made of and how they work, with courses such as circuit analysis, fluid mechanics, materials science and thermodynamics. Sound like a lot to cover? You’re not wrong. Indeed, mechanical engineering students often take five years (or four years including a couple of summers) to complete their degrees because they take on internships for hands-on work experience that complements their theoretical studies. The good news is these cooperative programs do include paid gigs, so you can offset some of those educational costs.

 

And it likely all pays off in the end. These degree holders tend to have little problem finding work with 85.1% being employed full-time, according to the Hamilton Project. Most majors go on to become mechanical engineers (obviously), who have a median salary of more than $83,400 a year. But some also find other well-paying jobs as other types of engineers, including civil and aerospace, and even as software developers and similar positions.

 

3. Civil Engineering

 

•Starting salary: $57,700

•Mid-career salary: $98,500

•Annual online job postings: 201,886

•Related job: Civil Engineer

•Projected 10-year job growth: 10.5%

 

A number of engineering fields are well known for paying well. Petroleum engineering, for example, turns out the top earners of all 126 majors we analyzed with an impressive median pay of $175,500 a year for mid-career workers. However, the size of the job market, with just about 33,200 petroleum engineers in the country, means scant opportunities for those looking to join the field. (Its inextricable tie to the volatility of oil prices also makes it difficult to recommend, especially right now.)

 

For civil engineering students, the potential median pay might not be quite as high (although Mexican business mogul Carlos Slim studied civil engineering, and he’s one of the richest men in the world), but the employment prospects are much better. Civil engineers, who design and supervise the construction of airports, sewer systems and other large projects, are expected to add more than 30,600 positions to their already robust ranks of nearly 292,000 by 2026.

 

An inclination toward math and science would make you a good civil engineering candidate. Your course load would include fluid mechanics, statics, structural analysis and design, and thermodynamics. Also be prepared to think through many word problems and work on group projects.

 

2. Biomedical Engineering

 

•Starting salary: $62,900

•Mid-career salary: $103,500

•Annual online job postings: 51,070

•Related job: Biomedical Engineer

•Projected 10-year job growth: 23.2%

 

The increasing overlap between biology and technology is expanding the field of biomedical engineering. For example, three-dimensional printers and smartphone apps being applied to health care helps drive demand for biomedical engineers, who design, create and maintain such equipment and software. And the aging population boosts the need for biomedical devices and procedures, such as hip and knee replacements, as we continue to live and remain active longer.

 

It helps to have a creative mind and an ability to problem-solve, as well as an interest in medicine, to succeed in this field. Expect a schedule packed with science and technology courses, such as anatomy, organic chemistry, robotics and computer programming.

 

1. Nursing

 

•Starting salary: $58,200

•Mid-career salary: $76,300

•Annual online job postings: 1.9 million

•Related job: Registered Nurse

•Projected 10-year job growth: 17.2%

 

The need for nurses is as persistent as the common cold. In terms of demand, most health care professionals, in general, benefit from the aging population, as well as an increasing number of insured people, which was brought on by the Affordable Care Act. Regardless of what may happen with health care coverage in our country, prospects for registered nurses (RNs) are promising—and even more so for nurse practitioners (NPs), whose ranks are expected to grow a whopping 32.3% by 2026. Both professions are among our best jobs for the future. NPs typically make nearly $98,288 a year; RNs earn a median $67,418 a year. And the field is as rewarding as it is lucrative: 82% of employees with this degree report feeling a high sense of meaning in their careers, according to PayScale.

 

To reach RN ranks, nursing students must take many science courses, including anatomy, chemistry, microbiology and nutrition. You also get supervised clinical experience in various specialties, such as pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery. And you'll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination to get your license (additional requirements vary by state). NPs must head back to school longer to obtain a master's or doctoral degree.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles. Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

10 Best Values in U.S. Colleges, 2017

Here is a nice article provided by Kaitlin Pitsker of Kiplinger:

 

By Kaitlin Pitsker, Staff Writer | March 2017

 

To help you sort through your college choices, we present the creme de la creme of our annual list of best value colleges and universities. These 10 schools are the top-scoring schools in our combined ranking, which compares private universities, private liberal arts colleges and public colleges (using-out-of-state costs) to help you see your options side by side. As always, we look for schools that meet our definition of best value: a blend of academic quality and affordability. Among our criteria for academic quality are a competitive admission rate, a high four-year graduation rate and a low student-faculty ratio. We look for schools with a reasonable price tag, generous financial aid for students who qualify, and low student debt at graduation. We’ve also included future earnings data, based on the median earnings of workers who started at a particular college 10 years earlier, to give you an idea of what attending a particular institution may mean for a student’s post-graduation salary.

 

In 2016-17, the average sticker price of a private college or university is $45,370, according to the College Board. The average sticker price for out-of-state students at public colleges is $35,370. Despite their higher price tags, private liberal arts colleges and private universities dominate the top spots on our combined list. Private colleges perform well in our rankings because they typically have higher graduation rates and more generous financial aid than public institutions – making a private education at some colleges more affordable than the in-state cost at a public school. But attending a public college – even one outside of your home state – can be a great value, too. Please take a look.

 

1. Swarthmore College

 

Location: Swarthmore, Pa.

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,586

Four-year grad rate: 87%

Total annual cost: $64,840

Avg. need-based aid: $44,256

Avg. graduating debt: $18,262

10-year salary yardstick: $48,500

 

High-quality academics and generous financial aid help Swarthmore College move up four places this year to head our 2017 combined best values list. This small college, located 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia, also leads our list of liberal arts colleges for the sixth time. Despite an annual sticker price of nearly $65,000, generous need-based financial aid, awarded to more than half of students, makes Swarthmore surprisingly affordable for many families. And Swarthmore’s financial aid package keeps loans off the table: All financial aid is awarded in the form of scholarships and grants. One-third of students still borrow, but the average debt at graduation among those students is about 40% less than the national average ($31,400) among private school borrowers.

This 152-year-old school with Quaker roots is highly competitive. Swarthmore accepts only 12% of applicants. Nearly two-thirds of incoming freshmen score 700 or higher on the critical-reading and math portions of the SAT. Once on campus, students can choose from more than 600 courses in more than 40 areas of study or select additional courses through the school’s agreement with nearby Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges as well as the University of Pennsylvania. Outside of class, Swatties can explore the school’s 425-acre campus, which includes Scott Arboretum and Crum Creek, or hop a train from the station on the edge of campus for the 30-minute ride to Philly’s bustling Center City.

 

2. Davidson College

 

Location: Davidson, N.C.

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,784

Four-year grad rate: 90%

Total annual cost: $62,923

Avg. need-based aid: $40,140

Avg. graduating debt: $19,929

10-year salary yardstick: $51,800

 

After breaking into our combined top 10 list last year, Davidson moves up two places this year to nab the second spot on our combined list. This tiny liberal arts college’s 22% admission rate and 90% four-year graduation rate have both improved in recent years, aiding the school’s climb. Davidson’s broad-based liberal arts curriculum allows students to select from more than 850 courses each year, with 26 academic majors, ranging from chemistry to religion. Life on Davidson’s 665-acre campus is governed by the school’s honor code, which emphasizes responsible behavior and trust between students and faculty. More than 80% of Davidson graduates go on to earn graduate or professional degrees.

The Wildcats have something else to cheer about: The school’s average need-based aid award has more than kept pace with increases in the school’s sticker price. And financial aid awards from Davidson don’t saddle students with debt. In 2007, the school became the first liberal arts college to eliminate loans from financial aid packages. Among the 27% of students who do borrow, the average debt is about $11,500 less than the national average among private school borrowers.

 

3. Princeton University

 

Location: Princeton, N.J.

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,402

Four-year grad rate: 90%

Total annual cost: $61,140

Avg. need-based aid: $44,890

Avg. graduating debt: $8,577

10-year salary yardstick: $77,900

 

Outstanding academics, generous financial aid and low student debt help Princeton University excel in our combined rankings. This Ivy League institution also earns top honors on our list of private universities for the third time in as many years.

Princeton’s slim 7% admission rate makes it one of the most selective schools on our list of 300 colleges. Nearly 70% of accepted students choose to enroll, and 97% of freshmen return for their sophomore year. Further solidifying the school’s place on our list: impressive test scores among incoming freshmen (72% score 700 or higher on the critical-reading portion of the SAT, and 79% score 700 or higher on the math portion) and the highest four-year graduation rate in our combined top 10. Once on Princeton’s 500-acre campus, about 50 miles from both Philadelphia and New York City, students can choose academic courses in 36 areas of study and sample some 300 student organizations.

An average need-based aid award of nearly $45,000 cuts the school’s annual sticker price by 73%. And Princeton’s definition of financial need may surprise you: Some of the nearly 60% of students who receive need-based aid come from families with an annual income of $250,000 a year or more. At Princeton, borrowing isn’t part of the deal. In 2001, the school became the first institution to establish a no-loan policy. Roughly one in six families report borrowing on their own, but the average debt for students who do borrow is among the lowest on our list of 300 colleges.

 

4. Duke University

 

Location: Durham, N.C.

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,639

Four-year grad rate: 86%

Total annual cost: $66,963

Avg. need-based aid: $44,725

Avg. graduating debt: $19,104

10-year salary yardstick: $76,700

 

Despite having the highest sticker price on our combined top 10 list, Duke University climbs seven places this year thanks to the school’s top-notch academics and generous financial aid awards. The Blue Devils rack up points in our rankings for strong academics, including a competitive 11% admission rate, high test scores among incoming freshmen (two-thirds scores above 700 on the critical-reading portion of the SAT, and 73% score 700 or higher on the math portion) and a six-to-one student-faculty ratio, which ensures that students get plenty of face time with their professors. More than half of undergraduates complete faculty-mentored research projects, and 83% of students go beyond their major to earn at least one more major, minor or certificate.

On the financial side, Duke’s average need-based aid award cuts the school’s sticker price by 67%. Like all schools in our top 10, Duke meets 100% of students’ demonstrated financial need. About one-third of students borrow, but the average debt of $19,104 is about 40% less than the national average for private school borrowers.

 

5. Washington and Lee University

 

Location: Lexington, Va.

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,854

Four-year grad rate: 88%

Total annual cost: $61,447

Avg. need-based aid: $42,322

Avg. graduating debt: $21,683

10-year salary yardstick: $72,900

 

Ample financial aid awards, combined with strong academics, help this small liberal arts college land the fifth spot on our combined best values list. More than 40% of students qualify for need-based aid, and the average need-based aid award cuts the school’s sticker price by more than one-third. W&L, which was named for Virginians George Washington and Robert E. Lee, also offers merit aid to 13% of students who don’t receive need-based aid, at an average of $33,756 per year in non-need-based aid for students who qualify.

The school’s campus, which is nestled between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains in the historic town of Lexington, Va., attracts exemplary students. Nearly 90% of incoming freshmen score 30 or higher on the ACT, and the eight-to-one student-faculty ratio generally translates into small classes. Students can select from 37 academic majors and join any of more than 130 student organizations. Students abide by the school’s honor code, which allows students to proctor their own exams, and a “speaking tradition” that encourages students and faculty greet everyone they pass on campus.

 

6. Harvard University

 

Location: Cambridge, Mass.

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,699

Four-year grad rate: 86%

Total annual cost: $64,565

Avg. need-based aid: $46,409

Avg. graduating debt: $16,723

10-year salary yardstick: $95,500

 

Outstanding academics – including a highly competitive 6% admission rate and high test scores among incoming freshmen – help this Ivy League institute secure its place on our best values list. Of the students who are offered admission, 80% of students enroll (the highest yield in our top 10 on the combined list). Harvard also boasts some of the highest test scores in our combined top 10: 78% of students score 700 or higher on the critical-reading portion of the SAT, and 79% score similarly high marks on the math section.

Harvard’s $35.7 billion endowment helps the school meet 100% of financial aid for students who qualify; nearly 60% of students receive need-based aid. Generous need-based aid awards, which on average cut the school’s annual sticker price by 72%, can make a Harvard education one of the best bargains in higher education. Like many of our top contenders, Harvard doesn’t include loans in financial aid awards. About three-fourths of families avoid borrowing – and the average debt among students who do borrow is about half of the national average for private school borrowers.

 

7. Thomas Aquinas College

 

Location: Santa Paula, Calif.

Undergraduate enrollment: 377

Four-year grad rate: 81%

Total annual cost: $32,500

Avg. need-based aid: $14,977

Avg. graduating debt: $16,901

10-year salary yardstick: $30,200

 

Thomas Aquinas College’s sticker price – which is about half that of many private colleges on our best values list – and generous financial aid awards propel this pint-sized, Catholic liberal arts college up 15 places on this year’s combined best values list. A tuition freeze that has been in place since the 2013-14 academic year and will continue through at least the 2017-18 academic year has kept the school’s annual sticker price, including room and board, from climbing. And yet few families will pay the sticker price – 75% of students qualify for need-based aid, and the average award brings the school’s net price to $17,523 per year.

Located 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles on the edge of Los Padres National Forest, Thomas Aquinas combines a classic curriculum with a religious emphasis that adheres to the morals and traditions of the Catholic Church. The school’s “great books” education focuses on analyzing the works of Aristotle, Homer and Shakespeare, among others. Thomas Aquinas admits 75% of applicants, and 56% of those who are admitted enroll.

 

8. Vanderbilt University

 

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,883

Four-year grad rate: 87%

Total annual cost: $62,598

Avg. need-based aid: $40,267

Avg. graduating debt: $21,506

10-year salary yardstick: $60,700

 

Located a mile and a half southwest of downtown Nashville on a parklike campus with ancient oaks and magnolia trees, Vanderbilt University racks up points in our ranking for its strong academics, including a competitive 12% admission rate, high test scores among incoming freshmen (92% score 30 or higher on the ACT) and an eight-to-one student-faculty ratio. Students can select from 69 majors, ranging from biomedical engineering and child development to economics and musical arts, and choose among more than 510 student clubs and organizations.

Thanks to generous need-based aid awards and the school’s no-loan policy, more than three-fourths of students graduate without taking out student loans. Among the 22% of students who report borrowing, the average debt at graduation is about $10,000 less than the national average. Nearly half of students qualify for need-based aid, and the average need-based aid award reduces the school’s annual sticker price by 64%. The school also awards non-need-based aid to 20% of students who don’t qualify for need-based aid.

 

9. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,415

Four-year grad rate: 82%

Total out-of-state annual cost: $46,576

Avg. need-based aid: $17,244

Avg. graduating debt: $20,127

10-year salary yardstick: $51,000

 

The Tar Heels continue their climb on the combined best values list, moving to number nine on this year’s list. Chapel Hill also deserves special kudos for topping our list of public colleges for in-state students for the 16th straight time – a clean sweep of Kiplinger’s public rankings. Solid academics, including a 30% admission rate and an 82% four-year graduation rate, combined with modest cost increases and robust financial aid awards, help this public research university continue to be a sweet deal.

Although UNC’s annual out-of-state sticker price is higher than the national average for out-of-state cost of attendance at four-year public colleges ($35,370), need-based financial aid awards cut the school’s annual out-of-state sticker price by 37%. Carolina and the University of Virginia (number 46 on our combined list) are the only two public colleges in our rankings to meet 100% of students’ demonstrated financial need – and much of this aid is awarded as scholarships and grants (which don’t have to be repaid) rather than loans.

 

10. Wellesley College

 

Location: Wellesley, Mass.

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,355

Four-year grad rate: 86%

Total out-of-state annual cost: $65,016

Avg. need-based aid: $44,218

Avg. graduating debt: $12,455

10-year salary yardstick: $56,500

 

This small women’s college, with a 500-acre campus that includes a private lake and a golf club, lands on our combined top 10 list this year with an improved four-year graduation rate and strong financial aid awards that help keep student borrowing in check. Wellesley College also stands out for its low, seven-to-one student-faculty ratio, 30% admission rate and an alumni network that has been called “the world’s most powerful women’s network.”

Need-based aid awards, which are awarded to nearly 60% of students, cut the school’s annual sticker price by an average of 68%. The school’s financial aid awards keep borrowing to a minimum – eliminating or reducing loans for some students, but keeping the total loan amount to no more than $15,200 over four years for all students. About half of Wellesley students report borrowing, but the average debt among graduates who borrow is about 40% of the national average among private school borrowers.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

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