Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - In a new study released over the weekend by the financial website Wallet Hub, the University of Montana only ranked fourth out of the six colleges and universities in the state.

With the first “early decision” college application deadline on Nov. 1, and tuition and room and board at a four-year college costing around $23,000 - $52,000 per year, Wallet Hub released its 2023’s Best College & University Rankings report.

KGVO News spoke to Wallet Hub analyst Jill Gonzalez about the study on Monday morning.

“We looked at 30 different measures here for the top performing schools which includes the lowest possible cost to an undergrad,” began Gonzalez. “The data set is grouped into seven categories; students' activity cost and financing career outcomes. That ranges from everything from student to faculty ratio to graduation rate to post attendance salary.”

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Starting at the bottom, Gonzalez listed the six educational institutions.

“When we looked at all of these colleges, the top six here overall was the University of Providence at number six, Rocky Mountain College at number five, the University of Montana at number four, Montana State University at number three, Montana Tech at number two and then Carroll College ranked the best overall.”

Gonzalez provided more specific information about the study.

“When we're looking at things across the board, we’re looking at the percentile, the ACT or SAT score, and how selective it is,” she said. “That's where Carroll (College) did the best. It’s a little bit more selective than the other schools here. It counted the best when it comes to student-faculty ratio as well of 11 students for every one faculty member, so that's a great number even beyond Montana, but really overall with a lot more attention given to students than most other places.”

Regarding the fourth-place ranking given to UM, Gonzalez had this to say.

“The University of Montana ranked fourth out of the six colleges ranked here,” she said. “In a lot of these things UM is doing pretty well. However, for instance, the admission rate is about 82 percent, so it’s not as selective as some of the other schools on the list. The median tuition is not as high but it was still higher than a couple of other schools here.”

Gonzalez also brought in the amount spent for an education combined with the salary that the university degree would bring to justify the expense.

“We're also looking at things like student loan debt,” she said. “That's one area where Carroll College did a lot better than, say, the University of Montana or the University of Providence, where students have less student loan debt looking 10 years out, along with better salaries 10 years out. So, that's what we're looking at in terms of the financial burden here as well.”

Recently, the University of Montana was named the ‘Best in America for Community and National Service’, however, Gonzalez said that was not one of the categories in the Wallet Hub study.

Click here to view the entire study from Wallet Hub about College Rankings.

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