Like Carolina and Truman State, the colleges on our list have all performed their share of fiscal legerdemain over the past 12 months. Some of them have bumped up the number of students per faculty member. Others have left a larger gap than in previous years between the financial aid they offer and the cost of attendance. Virtually all have raised costs for students.
For all the numbers-juggling, these schools continue to deliver a great education at prices that put private schools to shame. Consider our No. 1 school, UNC-Chapel Hill. North Carolina's flagship institution boasts a highly competitive admission rate, a strong record for graduating students on time, an in-state cost that barely exceeds the national average and an admirable record on student borrowing: More than two-thirds of Carolina students graduate debt-free.
In terms of financial aid, "we've done really well at Carolina because of the commitment on the part of the administration to take care of students," says Shirley Ort, associate provost and director for scholarships and student aid. Carolina's total annual in-state cost after need-based aid runs a mere $6,548; it is one of only two institutions in our top 100 (the other is the University of Virginia) that meet the full need of students who qualify.
UNC also stands out for its value to out-of-state students, who now pay a sticker price of $37,454 per year -- not chump change but far less than the $54,000-plus price tags of nearby competitors Duke and Wake Forest. In a departure from most public colleges, Carolina extends the same level of financial aid to out-of-state students that it affords in-state students. Says Ort, "Our feeling is that if we've granted them admission, we need to remove the financial barriers."
A glance through our top 100 reveals other good deals. North Georgia College and State University (No. 88), for instance, runs less than $14,000 a year for in-state students and keeps average debt at graduation to $10,021. And talk about a steal: The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (No. 93) charges $11,230 to in-state students and $18,190 to out-of-staters, making it the lowest-cost institution in our rankings.
Those numbers don't even factor in financial aid, which makes tuition affordable at some of the top public institutions in the country. For instance, at the University of Virginia, families who qualify for need-based aid pay an average annual in-state cost of only $5,138, dirt cheap for this "public Ivy." And here's good news for all the parents of prospective 'Hoos: Because UVA graduates 85% of its students within four years, you likely won't be forking out for an extra year.
|Top 20 best values in public colleges|
|Rank (in-state)||Rank (out-of-state)||Name||Location||Admiss-ions rate||4-year gradua-tion rate||Total cost per year (in-state)||Cost after need-based aid (in-state)||Total cost per year (out-of-state)||Cost after need-based aid (out-of-state)||Average debt at gradua-tion|
|1||1||The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, N.C.||32%||76%||$17,628||$6,548||$37,454||$26,374||$16,165|
|2||8||University of Florida||Gainesville, Fla.||43%||59%||$15,526||$8,079||$37,803||$30,356||$16,013|
|3||5||University of Virginia||Charlottes-ville, Va.||33%||85%||$21,626||$5,138||$45,948||$29,460||$19,384|
|4||4||The College of William and Mary||Williams-burg, Va.||32%||82%||$23,054||$11,499||$45,331||$33,776||$21,367|
|5||19||New College of Florida||Sarasota, Fla.||53%||57%||$15,458||$5,316||$38,487||$28,345||$11,458|
|6||9||University of Georgia||Athens, Ga.||59%||54%||$19,258||$10,288||$37,468||$28,498||$15,938|
|7||7||University of California||Berkeley, Calif.||22%||69%||$29,027||$13,164||$51,905||$36,042||$16,056|
|8||10||University of Maryland||College Park, Md.||44%||63%||$19,409||$12,450||$36,780||$29,821||$22,696|
|9||6||University of California , Los Angeles||Los Angeles, Calif.||23%||68%||$28,174||$15,397||$51,052||$38,275||$16,733|
|10||13||University of California, San Diego||San Diego, Calif.||38%||57%||$26,232||$10,317||$49,110||$33,195||$18,757|
|11||3||State University of New York, College at Geneseo||Geneseo, N.Y.||38%||62%||$18,134||$13,758||$27,184||$22,808||$21,200|
|12||2||State University of New York at Binghamton||Binghamton, N.Y.||40%||66%||$20,026||$13,310||$28,136||$21,420||$21,110|
|13||11||University of Wisconsin-Madison||Madison, Wisc.||58%||51%||$18,590||$12,733||$34,340||$28,483||$22,837|
|14||18||University of Washington||Seattle||57%||54%||$21,152||$12,432||$38,636||$29,916||$16,219|
|15||21||University of North Carolina at Wilmington||Wilming-ton, N.C.||57%||45%||$14,159||$7,367||$25,980||$19,188||$19,277|
|16||24||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor, Mich.||51%||72%||$23,953||$13,170||$49,910||$38,842||$27,828|
|17||16||University of California, Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara, Calif.||46%||64%||$28,100||$12,711||$31,404||$34,521||$17,596|
|18||31||Florida State University||Talla-hassee, Fla.||60%||50%||$16,554||$11,847||$31,404||$27,014||$20,993|
|19||26||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, N.C.||54%||41%||$16,554||$6,896||$29,389||$18,731||$19,988|
|20||22||University of California, Davis||Davis, Calif.||45%||51%||$28,147||$13,263||$51,024||$36,141||$16,659|
|See Kiplinger's complete public rankings|
More from Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine:
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This list is crap and is slanted. Hmm……Frankly I do not see how the numbers add up?
UNC for example: average out of state cost after need based financial aid - $26K per year. yet they only owe 4K per year to get to 16K owed at graduation in this article??? so where is the mysterious 22K of aid per year coming from????? that's almost 100k of unexplained financial aid - or is that really debt to the student????
This article is either flawed, or not explaining itself well. In my opinion it has intentionally ignored colleges that are much better value but are not viewed as making the grade in this authors eyes. Fact is they are valuing the names and reputations of these colleges more than their actual "value" in getting a solid education cheaply. this article shouldn't be about pompous attitudes towards "elite" colleges and should be about true value.
I have seen many of these lists, and they are all the same, they don't truly live up to their own title.
BS! Look for yourself and avoid schools with schools that are well know for their sports teams (unless you are on a "jock" or want to major is basket weaving). Listed here are schools with very high cost. My old university (I will not mention which one, do your own homework) only charges $4,000/semester (full time, on campus, resident) and would give you just as good an education.
I am retired now and living very comfortably, so I do not mind if you want to over pay. However, I'm just trying to alert you to the fact that you do not need to hock the rest of your life with debt, just to get a good education. After a few years in the work place your place of education (school name) becomes unimportant. Employers want to see results from what you have learned. They do not want to pay you for having a fancy degree when you do not have the skills to back them up.
A community college, or even other public colleges in Washington state, or most likely any state for that matter, are BY FAR the better deal. While going to the University of Washington, I took some classes at a community college because I could actually get into them, and they were taught better!
Maybe the author of this article should have talked to some actual students!
Comparing these prices to others in the nation, these schools are a good deal. However, it still is costly. I went to a community college for a couple of years, building general ed courses and switching my major twice. Now attending a four-year in-state college with a major in something I am passionate about, I still worry about tutition costs. Although my college is the most affordable four-year in the state, the tutition is unfortunately rising due to inflation and the budget problems the school boards are facing. Luckily I can still get financial aid and compared to other colleges in my state, those are rising more and more percent wise. I also have no debt because I chose decent schools that were economically affordable. In addition, I had a part-time job, watched how I spent my savings, and rented/borrowed textbooks or got them online for cheap prices.
The best advice I can give is to attend community college first. According to what I have read, students will change their majors and careers several times by age twenty-five. Community college is financially better, offers degrees that give job training, and you could explore a possible major that will transfer you to a four-year college. In fact, several in-state colleges where I live have been taking more community college credits so future students can attend their schools. If not, try a trade school. You can learn skills and get training in professions where you can make a decent salary without big amounts of student debt or tutiton to pay.
There are lots of possiblities out there. Just look around and you will find them!
Best "Public" college for it's value? West Point or any of the other Service Academies. Totally free, world class education, and a guaranteed job upon graduation. They can't be beat!
Yeah, but do you have any CLUE how hard it is to get into one of the military academies? Not sure about West Point, but I know for a fact that both the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs and the Naval Academy in Annapolis require you to have a written recommendation letter from your elected Congress representative (House or Senate), and there are only so many spots available representing each region.
Top that off with you having to have top grades, proof of leadership all through your 18 years of life like grade school Boy Scouts through High School clubs, and of course the ubiquitous "military" mentality that they size up (and root out) during your admission interview. It is extremely difficult and competitive getting into. A neighborhood friend of mine got his scholarship and blew it because he preferred chicks and parties to the USAF way of life. You also have to not be an idiot.
And someone definitely did not do much research here. I went to my local Community College, got the two year AA, and then was automatically qualified to go to a state college of my choice for the BS, which I did (UF,. the #2 here). All for about 65% of the cost of those who even went to a state college for the full four years. So there are options within public colleges and universities too.
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