Storm Lake, Iowa
4-year, Regionally accredited
Affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's
With just under 900 of Buena Vista University’s 2,300 undergraduates on the main campus – a 60-acre campus on a natural 3,200-acre lake – in Storm Lake, Iowa, the other undergrads are located across Iowa at 16 sites located on community college campuses. Interestingly, almost 40% of the undergrads are over 24 years of age and take some courses via distance education, which indicates to us that Buena Vista provides a very valuable higher education opportunity for adults. It would be safe to assume that many of these adults attend the BVU “satellite” classrooms at their local community colleges, or attend online. Graduate students are all part-time attendees, and over half of them take courses online. (The foregoing gave our reviewers a good feeling about Buena Vista…)
This is another university that apparently believes their high sticker price (over $40,000 for first time students who attend fulltime) gives them the aura of quality. Thankfully, they are very much aware of the issues related to the high cost of college and resulting student debt levels, and they provide financial aid to everyone who requests it – to the tune of $14 million in awards and scholarships annually. This aid includes grants and scholarships provided directly by Buena Vista, and reduces the cost to attend to a reasonable $20,000.
This university states that it provides an education based on the liberal arts but with a career focus. That career focus, along with reasonable costs and high marks from a majority of students and alumni are what convinced our Selection Committee to deem Buena Vista University a 2017 Best Value College. The career focus was evident when we researched recent degrees awarded by Buena Vista. Education topped the list, with bachelor degrees awarded in several specialty fields of study and master’s degrees awarded in counseling, special education, and curriculum/instruction. Business is a close second to Education, and we noted bachelor degrees in several business specialties, the most popular being accounting, business administration and human resources. Bachelor’s in biology, criminal justice and psychology were also popular. All in all, Buena Vista offers about 90 programs, and they offer a TruePromise guarantee. That guarantee is three fold: every freshman will receive a meaningful internship in their area of study; they will graduate in four years; and they will have a job or be admitted to graduate school within 6 months of graduation. Buena Vista backs that up with a free semester of BVU graduate school if they fall short in any of the three areas, which hasn’t happened to date.
"Buena Vista University is a private college the provides spiritual and academic excellence, but still provides at welcoming atmosphere. Buena Vista University is unique in that is helps you get on the right track. Everyone from the faculty. staff, spiritual leaders, as well as fellow students are kind and inviting."