Milligan College is a four-year accredited university that offers over 100 majors and minors and has been nationally ranked for the past few years. Do these things make it a good college?

When organizations like U.S. News and Best Colleges rank schools, they focus mainly on academic quality and cost, but retention and graduation are also important factors.

For the 2016-2017 academic year, the cost of tuition was $31,450. This semester there are 1,217 students and 818 are traditional undergraduate students. Over 75 percent of undergraduate students live on campus. The faculty to student ratio averages out at 12:1 and according to the Best Colleges website the graduation rate is 60 percent.

Milligan is currently ranked 23rd by U.S. News for “Best colleges–top regional universities in the South.” This category looks at schools with an undergraduate and master’s program but that have not necessarily established a large doctoral program.

U.S. News also ranked the college sixth for “Best value–top regional universities in the South.” This category looks at colleges on a broad spectrum, comparing cost and academics.

Best Colleges ranked Milligan the third best college in Tennessee.

No. 1 on this list is Vanderbilt University in Nashville for which the 2016-2017 academic year tuition was $44,496. This semester, there are 12,587 students; 6,871 are traditional undergraduate students, of which 90 percent live on campus. The faculty to student ratio averages out at 8:1 and the graduation rate is 92 percent.

Before the tuition for the upcoming year can be calculated, Milligan takes into consideration multiple factors.

The Board of Trustees and financial committee review the previous year’s finances and look at what was accomplished and if the upcoming year will have new expenses–such as new programs or facilities–or a rise in insurance costs. The committee also compares Milligan to similar schools in the area and in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

“In the last five years, a priority for the administration has been to keep tuition increases as low as possible,” Jacqui Steadman, vice president for business and finance, said.

Last year, the tuition increased 5.15 percent according to statistics from the CCCU, which was greater than the average of the last 5 years, at 3.88 percent. Steadman explained the increase occurred to offset lower enrollment numbers and unforeseen costs, like utilities or insurance rates. Steadman added that the tuition increase for the 2017-2018 school year is projected to be the second lowest in 25 years.

When asked what makes Milligan worth it, Steadman answered, “You can get a college degree anywhere. I think the value is in those relationships and those small details.”

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