Kiplinger's Personal Finance has named the 100 best values in public colleges, ranking four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value. This year two institutions from the state of Alabama made the list; Auburn University at #63, while the University of Alabama came in at #65.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took top honors, a spot it has held consistently since Kiplinger's first analysis in 1998. The annual public school rankings appear in Kiplinger's February 2010 issue—on newsstands Tuesday, January 5th—and online now at www.kiplinger.com/reports/best-college-values/.
Web visitors will find special interactive features including a reader's choice poll, a slideshow of the top 10 schools, and data sortable by criteria such as state, tuition cost, average debt, student/faculty ratio, and admission rate. Students can share original videos from their favorite public college with fellow Kiplinger readers via Kiplinger's Facebook page. Additionally, Kiplinger's top 100 ranked private colleges and universities of 2009-10—announced in November 2009—are featured in a companion Best College Values report.
Private colleges have recently averaged almost $36,000 a year—a sharp contrast to the public schools on Kiplinger's top 100 list, in which 39 charge about the same or less than the average annual in-state sticker price of roughly $15,000. Plus, the deals aren't restricted to in-state students. At Binghamton University (SUNY), which takes the top spot in value for out-of-state students, non-New Yorkers pay $26,075 a year, only one-third more than in-state students.
"Despite widespread state government budget cuts and shrinking endowments, this year's top 100 public schools continue to deliver strong academics at reasonable prices," says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger's. "In fact, in many cases, these institutions are offering the same or more financial aid as in previous years."
At Kiplinger's top-ranked college, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, over three-fourths of its incoming freshmen scored higher than 600 on both the verbal and math portions of their SATs, and almost all—96.5%—stay on after freshman year. This year, Chapel Hill fielded more than 23,000 applications and admitted about 7,400, giving it a competitive 32% admission rate. Besides boasting top students, an outstanding faculty and a historic campus, Chapel Hill enjoys one big advantage over many other public schools: strong state support for financial aid.
Kiplinger's Top 10 Values in Public Colleges for 2009-10:
Many of the schools in the Kiplinger 100 offer substantial financial aid. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#1), the annual in-state cost for students with financial need comes to just under $6,000. The University of Virginia (#3) and New College of Florida (#12) bestow enough need-based grant money to bring the average cost of in-state attendance to under $5,000.
The Kiplinger Rankings 11-100:
More on Ranking Methodology
Selected from a pool of more than 500 public four-year colleges and universities, schools in the Kiplinger 100 were ranked according to academic quality, including admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios and four- and six-year graduation rates, as well as on cost and financial aid. More methodology specifics—as well as sortable rankings and other interactive features—are available at: www.kiplinger.com/reports/best-college-values/.