Education for Less: 10 Top Values in Public Colleges

*By Barbara Pronin

 
If your high schooler is considering options for higher education, many factors come into play; a college’s geographic location, reputation for excellence in a chosen field, and financial viability among them.

Kiplinger’s, which annually rates colleges nationwide on the basis of educational quality and affordability, has released its top ten picks for 2013:

  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill –Credited with stellar academics, reasonable sticker price and generous financial aid. The student-faculty ratio is 14-1, and the cost is about $18,000 for in-state and $39,000 for out-of-state students.
  • University of Virginia – A Kiplinger pick since 2008, UVA has an undergraduate enrollment of less than 16,000. It is said to meet 100 percent of financial need and has a four-year graduation rate of 87 percent.
  • University of Florida – Although a big school with 16 colleges, UF scores high on academics and cost, with an average annual rate of $16,500 for in-staters and $38,800 for out-of-state students.
  • College of William and Mary – Small and highly competitive, the Virginia school is considered by many a ‘public Ivy.’ Annual cost is on the higher side, but the school boasts an 87 percent four-year graduation rate, which could save an extra year’s tuition.
  • University of Maryland, College Park – With an average debt at graduation rate of just over $24,000, the school will join the Big Ten in the 2014-1015 year – a boon to athletes and still highly rated and fairly reasonable in cost.
  • UCLA – Despite tuition increases in California, UCLA remains competitive thanks to generous financial aid. Known for rigorous academics, the school meets 84 percent of need for in- and out-of-state students.
  • New College of Florida – This tiny school boasts solid academics and outstanding affordability, with an average debt at graduation cost of just over $14,000.
  • UC Berkeley – Berkeley admits only 22 percent of applicants, making it the most selective school in these top ten. Out-of-state cost is high, but average debt at graduation is $17,116, the third lowest in these ratings.
  • SUNY Geneseo – With the lowest cost for out-of-state students in the top ten, the New York school rates high in academics and excellent student to faculty ratio.
  • UC San Diego – Delivers on academics and generous financial aid, with the lowest total cost of any California college. Average debt at graduation rate of just under $20,000.

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