Time’s Money Magazine Ranks MMA Tops

Every year, Money magazine produces a list of schools that offer the best value. Its assessment is based on a variety of criteria, and as with any survey, there is always room for interpretation. That said, the list offers a good barometer for future college students and their parents to consider when beginning the arduous post-secondary education search process.

The magazine also provides more specialized data, offering lists of particular types of schools, such as those with a student body of less than 5,000. Among the top contenders in this field in 2018 were several that would have been more conspicuous by their absence than anything else: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology among them. Comfortably ensconced at No. 4, however, was a name that might be more familiar locally than on the national scene: the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.

The school, which also ranked at an impressive No. 21 on the magazine’s list of all schools, was lauded for a variety of criteria, including the fact that students have, in recent years, reported an annual average wage of $63,100 within three years of graduation, a notable 29 percent higher than graduates coming from schools with similar demographics. The school also boasts a solid graduation rate: 76 percent, which is 13 percent above the average number for similar schools.

The school’s in-state price tag – which includes tuition, room and board – of $22,403 also falls in the realm of reasonable by four-year-college standards. To be fair, there are additional fees depending on what program a student is enrolled in, but that is the case at other schools as well.

In fact, the national average for tuition at a four-year school in 2016 was $26,120, with private schools often coming in much higher.

According to Money, 55 percent of the MMA student body receives grants, helping to reduce the overall cost of attending the school even further. For those students who receive grants, the average tuition drops to $15,100, and for students from low-income families, the average annual cost comes in at $3,100.

In an email to the Times, Rear Adm. Francis McDonald, president of the Academy, said that the school’s emergence onto the national stage has been more than a decade in the making, as MMA has expanded its offerings in terms of degrees. At the same time, McDonald stressed that the school has remained committed to its core values: that all students work toward bachelor of science degrees and that all participate in either co-op or internship programs. In addition, the school requires that students take part in its leadership program and that they be civically engaged.

McDonald also noted that the school is committed to providing an education that will have monetary value. “Over this same time and due, in part, to the rising cost of higher education, students (and parents) have begun to pay attention to the ‘payoff’ for that significant investment,” he said. “As you may have seen, the question is being asked: Is college worth it? As a result, the Academy’s ability to transform students into leaders has been seen as particularly valuable.”

The college’s many successes over its century-plus history have been well documented in these pages, and more than a handful of Cape and Islands students have found themselves first as cadets at the school and later as productive adult members of our local communities. And while Money’s ratings look primarily at the cost/benefit ratio associated with a MMA education, many of these students’ successes can be measured not simply in paychecks, but in the leadership they provide in the communities in which they live. That investment in the places they call home produces dividends that we are all fortunate to reap.

Originally posted in the Cape Cod Times, August 29, 2018