Research in Higher Education

, Volume 53, Issue 8, pp 860–887 | Cite as

Identifying the Best Buys in U.S. Higher Education

  • E. Anthon Eff
  • Christopher C. Klein
  • Reuben Kyle


Which U.S. institutions of higher education offer the best value to consumers? To answer this question, we evaluate U.S. institutions relative to a data envelopment analysis (DEA) multi-factor frontier based on 2000–2001 data for 1,179 4-year institutions. The resulting DEA “best buy” scores allow the ranking of institutions by a weighted sum of institutional characteristics per dollar of average net price. The net price is calculated as tuition, fees, room, and board less per student financial aid. Institutional characteristics include SAT score, athletic expenditures, instructional expenditures, value of buildings, dorm capacity, and student body characteristics. The DEA scores indicate the distance of each institution from the “best buy” frontier for the chosen characteristics, providing an objective means of ranking institutions as the best values in higher education.


Education Data envelopment analysis Comparative advantage 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Anthon Eff
    • 1
  • Christopher C. Klein
    • 1
  • Reuben Kyle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Economics and FinanceMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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