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Eastern named a ‘Best Value School’ by U.S. News & World Report

Published on September 24, 2021

Eastern named a ‘Best Value School’ by U.S. News & World Report

New England’s top public regional university in affordability relative to academic quality

Best ValueEastern Connecticut State University is one of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Value Schools” in the North in its 2021-22 rankings released this September. Weighing financial cost against academic quality, Eastern is the top ranked public regional university in New England —  and the only such university in Connecticut — to make the report’s best-value rankings.

The report also shows Eastern is the top overall public regional university in New England for the third consecutive year, and is tied with Westfield State University in Massachusetts as New England’s top public regional university for veterans.

 “As Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, Eastern prides itself on providing an outstanding residential academic experience where students can connect personally with their professors, student peers and campus resources,” said Eastern Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs William Salka. “Despite the pandemic, we have been able to maintain the quality of instruction while providing Eastern students with an on-ground academic experience enriched by on-campus support services and student life programming. Our number one ranking in New England should be good news for prospective students considering Eastern as their college of choice.” 

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs William Salka

Holly Fischer, biology major

Richard Gumpert, English major

The best-value ranking considers academic quality relative to the overall costs of attending a college or university and also factors in how much financial aid is provided students. The only other Connecticut regional university listed is Fairfield University, a private institution.

Eastern enrolls approximately 3,700 full-time undergraduate students, 88 percent of whom receive financial aid. In the 2020-21 academic year, the university awarded $9.7 million in merit-based scholarships. Students received an additional $14.6 million in need-based aid. Additionally, Eastern funds more than 700 work-study jobs on campus.

Holly Fischer, a biology major and member of the University’s Honors Program, remarked on her Eastern experience: “Working on my Honors Thesis has challenged me to think critically about a need for research within my discipline and to develop a research project that investigates the question. Working on this research project along with my mentor has allowed me to build on my laboratory skills, experience with different techniques and equipment, which will better prepare me for post-undergraduate opportunities. This … has helped build my confidence in the laboratory and has pushed me to strive for excellence inside and outside the classroom.”

English major Richard Gumpert concurs. “My time at Eastern has definitely been essential to my growth as a scholar. All the classes I’ve taken at Eastern contribute to my unique approach to textual analysis,” he said of his research analyzing films. “I often find myself thinking back to past experiences to figure out solutions to current problems. On top of that, Eastern faculty have also been essential to my growth, and I thoroughly enjoy going to professors with questions or just striking up conversations with them in general.”

Dean of Academic Analytics Jennifer Brown

Milton Jackson ’05

Danielle Robillard ’16

To be eligible for U.S. News & World Report’s best-value rankings, universities had to report financial aid data in spring and summer 2021, which was weighted on indicators such as percentage of students receiving need-based aid; average discount from the school’s sticker price; and more. Indicators are weighted relative to academic quality, which is based on schools’ overall Best Colleges rankings — in which Eastern is New England’s number one public regional university.

“Ranking systems like this provide families with the ability to make data-informed decisions when it comes to higher education,” said Dean of Academic Analytics Jennifer Brown. “In particular, Eastern’s ranking among top value schools in the North signals to parents that the University is committed to its mission to provide Eastern students with a transformative liberal arts experience that is accessible to students from all backgrounds.”

Speaking to the impact of Eastern, Milton Jackson ’05, assistant vice president of design and user experience at The Hartford, said, “I attribute my success to the multitude of Eastern faculty and staff who provided me guidance and mentorship during and after graduation.”

Danielle Robillard ’16 agrees. After starting her teaching career at Norwich Free Academy, she is now pursuing a master’s degree in mathematics at the University of California Riverside. “Eastern was the perfect school for me as a prospective teacher, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in becoming a part of the education field. The broad range of classes paired with clinical work and student-teaching prepares students for their careers.”

Written by Michael Rouleau