Sixty percent of Tennessee Tech University's 2010 graduates left school debt free, and students who carried a debt after graduation owed the lowest average of any regional university in the South, according to the publisher of U.S.News and World Report.
In rankings released today, Tennessee Tech also ranks as the state's highest public university in the Regional Universities in the South category. TTU earned the 39th spot among Best Regional Universities in the South, which includes public and private schools, in the 2012 edition of America's Best Colleges by U.S. News Media Group.
Only 40 percent of TTU's 2010 graduates owed debt on their loans taken through school, including private and government loans. The average amount of student debt, or the cumulative amount owed by students who incurred debt, was $9,510. TTU was the only school on the South list with an average debt amount lower than $10,000.
"As we expand our efforts to serve new students and community college transfer students who want to complete their education at a top-notch university, we are pleased that this report reflects our quality and value," said TTU President Bob Bell. "Keeping education affordable is a key factor in helping our students achieve lifelong success."
The exclusive rankings, which include more than 1,400 schools nationwide, are available today at www.usnews.com/colleges. The rankings also will be available in U.S.News & World Report's Best Colleges guidebook available at usnews.com and on newsstands starting Sept. 20.
Over the past two decades, the U.S. News college rankings—which groups schools based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching—have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.
Among the many factors weighed in determining the rankings, the key measures of quality are peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.
TTU's ranking indicates that 82 percent of its faculty members are full-time. About 37 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 21:1. Fifty percent of TTU entering freshmen are classified in the top 25 percent of their high school class.
The main rankings are separated into four main categories, which have changed from previous years: national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities and regional colleges. These categories are further subdivided by geographic region.
Universities within the regional university category, such as TTU, offer a full range of undergraduate and master's-level programs, but fewer doctoral programs (if any) compared to institutions listed in the national category.
TTU offers doctoral degrees in engineering, education and environmental sciences.
The regional university category is separated by region because, in general, schools in this category tend to draw students heavily from surrounding states. While TTU typically attracts most of its students from Tennessee, the university enrolls students from 40 other states and 65 foreign countries.