By Robert Mills
LOWELL -- A business and technology news website rated UMass Lowell as the most underrated college in the country in a feature released Wednesday that compared university rankings with how much money graduates can expect to earn.
The Business Insider story compares rankings from U.S. News & World Report to PayScale.com's midcareer salary rank for various universities.
The website created a composite ranking of universities and colleges that placed UMass Lowell's ranking at 680 among institutions judged by U.S. News & World Report. Payscale.com ranks UMass Lowell 82nd among universities in midcareer salary.
"Future income isn't the only factor that should determine college choice, but it may be the most important one," wrote authors Jennifer Polland, Max Rosenberg and Walter Hickey.
The list of the top 25 schools was populated mostly by public schools and technical schools. No other schools in Massachusetts made the list.
Christine Gillette, a university spokeswoman, said administrators learned of the ranking Wednesday when it was released.
"We appreciate the recognition," Gillette said. "Now their readers know what over 70,000 UMass Lowell alumni already do, which is that a UMass Lowell degree delivers an excellent return on investment."
The news website attributed the high-paying careers of graduates to the large number of business and engineering students who graduate from UMass Lowell.
"The public school ranked low on US News' list at #170, but its graduates earned a high average mid-career salary of over $92,000," wrote Polland, Rosenberg and Hickey.
"This is ranking is yet another national recognition of the value of a UMass Lowell degree," UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan said. "Not only do our alumni earn among the highest average midcareer salaries in New England, they are also near the top in starting salaries. In addition to earning power, our graduates have a high-quality education that makes them work-ready, life-ready and world-ready."
Gillette said Payscale.com also lists UMass Lowell high in its list of schools at which students get high starting salaries, and in May, UMass Lowell was ranked to provide the 10th-best return on investment among public universities in the U.S.
In the report released by PayScale.com, UMass Lowell ranked 50th among 1,060 public and private universities in the country when it comes to return on investment, and 10th among 437 public schools.
That report compared the cost of attending a school with the future earning potential of graduates.
Gillette said university officials did disagree with one portion of the Business Insider story, which described UMass Lowell's ranking of 170 among universities nationwide as "low."
Gillette said the university is proud of its U.S. News rankings as well, which rank UMass Lowell among the top 100 public schools in the country, and among the top 200 public and private schools.
The school has been climbing in those rankings as well, gaining seven spots between last year and the year before.
Gillette added that the report also used an old enrollment figure for UMass Lowell, which now has 16,300 students -- a 40 percent increase over enrollment in 2007.