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ITHACA, NY — In its first-ever ranking of colleges and universities, The Economist has listed Ithaca College at #47 in the country for providing value to its graduates. The prestigious publication demonstrates the economic value of a college by comparing the gap between how much money its alumni earn and how much they might have earned had they studied at another school with a similar student profile.

Released earlier this fall, the study was conducted with earnings data from 2005–2015, generated by students who had attended collegefrom 2000–2004 and applied for financial aid.

IC was ranked in the 96th percentile, meaning Ithaca is in the top 4% for boosting the earning power of its graduates above their expected earnings. The Economist studied data from 1,302 four-year colleges and universities to come up with its ranking.

The Economist calculates the median annual earnings of Ithaca College alumni at $50,400, while they would only be making $43,537 had they attended another similar institution.

“This is what economic analysts like to refer to as opportunity cost — the value of the next best alternative,” says William Kolberg, professor and chair of the Department of Economics. “According to this study, if students considering Ithaca College choose instead to attend another similar school, they will lose on average $6,863 per year over the course of their post-graduate career.

Ithaca’s performance in this study says there is something very special that students are receiving in the process of earning their degree from here, a ‘something’ that is not to be found at alternative similar institutions,” Kolberg adds. “This ‘something’ has a measurable impact on our students’ future earnings, and I would speculate that it has spillover impacts on other non-monetary value tied to an Ithaca Collegeeducation; that the benefits are broader than just earnings potential.”

Kolberg notes that while some may question the methodology of the ranking, The Economist has an established tradition of being extremely meticulous in its coverage and analysis of financial issues.

“This is not saying that Ithaca College is ranked #47 in the country by the income of its graduates, but that it is better in generating the income premium over similar schools with similar students, and therefore has more value in comparison.”

The complete rankings and methodology can be found at

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.