In the face of tightened school budgets and increasing tuition costs, a valuable collegiate experience is still achievable at a reasonable cost. Here are the nation’s top 10 public universities that will give students and their families the most bang for their buck, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine
As the nation’s first state university and the sole public university to award degrees in the 18th century, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been the top school on Kiplinger’s rankings for 10 consecutive years since 1998. Competition for admission is steep: only 7,345 were admitted out of 23,224 applications for 2011, creating an admission rate of 32%. While the total cost for in-state students is only $17,000, out-of-state students shell out $35,614 per year. This year, the university was able to meet 100% of need-based aid, which averages about $7,000 for each student.
One of the five largest universities in the country, the University of Florida in Gainesville is well known for its sports teams and is considered one of the best buys for public colleges. Out of 25,798 applicants, 10,821 were admitted for the 2010-2011 year. After tuition, room and board plus the cost of books, in-state students are looking at a grand total of $14,684 a year (the lowest in state cost on the list) and $36,961 for out of state students.
Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia boasts that its admissions are selective because its student body demonstrates the “exceptional promise” that Jefferson visualized. The author of the Declaration of Independence may have been on to something as UVA posts the highest graduation rates in the Kiplinger rankings as well as the most generous need-based financial aid packages. The cost in state after need-based aid is $5,692 (average aid package $14,995) and out-of-state kids who need financial aid pay $28,638 a year. Out of 21,108 applicants, 6,768 were admitted for the 2010-2011 school year.
The second oldest college in the nation claims that it offers a “world-class education without the sticker shock.” The College of William and Mary in historic Williamsburg, Va., deems itself one of the eight “public ivies” in the country (joining UVA and UNC Chapel Hill on the list) and accepted a third of their applicants (4,058 admitted out of 12,109) for the 2010-2011 year. Without factoring need-based or non-need-based aid into tuition, the total cost for in-state students rings up at $21,972 a year and $42,996 for out-of-state students.
As the state’s flagship university, the University of Maryland in College Park offers tuition for in-state students at $19,040 (only a small increase from last year’s costs) and $35,455 a year for out-of-state students without any need or non-need-based aid. Out of the 28,331 students that applied, 11,870 were admitted for the 2010-2011 school year.
The State University of New York at Binghamton in upstate New York promises students they expect an education that rivals a top private college and the best experiences of a public university. In total, the school costs $27,535 a year for out-of-state students and $19,125 for in state students. Out of 29,061 applications, only 9,692 (33%) were admitted.
Calling itself the “most selective institution in SUNY,” this small school gives SUNY Binghamton a run for its money…literally. The State University of New York College at Geneseo in the upstate Finger Lakes region costs $25,803 for out-of-state kids and $17,393 for in-state students. The admissions rate is steep at 35%, with 3,631 admitted out of 10,412.
The University of Georgia admitted 9,557 out of 17,776 for this past school year. The total cost for in-state students is $18,226 and the out-of-state cost is $36,436 a year. UGA is also known for its SEC conference sports program that has won 25 national championships since 1999.
Located between two lakes in Wisconsin’s capital, the University of Wisconsin-Madison claims to provide a small-city feel with the advantages of a more urban environment. While winters may be a little brutal (the average low temperature in January is a balmy 7 degrees), a comparatively low price ($33,027 a year for out of state and $17,777 for in state) may warm up students’ feelings for the school. Out of 24,855 applicants, 14,228 students were admitted for 2010-2011.
One of the oldest public colleges on the West Coast, the University of Washington was founded in 1861 with a gift of 10 acres located in what is now downtown Seattle. UW admitted 12,264 students for the 2010-2011 school year out of 21,268 applications. The total cost for in-state students is $19,135a year and out-of-state students fork out $36,342.
Looking for a top-notch college education without the hefty price tag?