Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kiplinger Publishes its Annual List of Best Value Colleges

Kiplinger has published its annual report on the colleges that it rates as the best value colleges.  Many of the same colleges are at the top of this list.  For example, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hills is the number one value among public colleges for the 10th year in a row.  However, that may not be the case next year, since the board is raising in-state tuition by 15.6% for next year, and similar percentages for the next several years.  Part of the justification for raising tuition to that extent is the fact that UNC-Chapel Hill has been recognized by Kiplinger and other as such a great deal, compared to other public colleges.

Among private schools, Princeton University appears to continue to offer the best financial aid program.  According to Kiplinges, the average Princeton grad leaves owing only a little over $5,000 for his/her undergraduate education.  Of course, these kinds of average statistics can be misleading;  if you go to school with nine millionaires who can afford the tuition outright, while you need to borrow $50,000, that averages out to a mean debt of $5,000.  Nonetheless, Princeton is generally regarded as the school among the Ivy League colleges that does the best job in providing sufficient aid to allow anyone who does get in to be able to attend.

There are two things that are interesting to look at between the two lists.  One is the average debt upon graduation.   Graduates of even the #1 bargain public school, UNC-Chapel Hill, owe an average of over $15,000, while quite a few few of the top schools have a significantly lower average debt upon graduation.  Secondly, while Chapel Hill as a four-year graduation rate of nearly 75%, and my alma mater, the College of William and Mary, as well as the University of Virginia, have four-year completion rates of over 80%, most of the other top "bargain" public schools have four-year completion rates in the 50 percentiles, or even the 40's.  Obviously, this is related to the debt burden, because having to extend your education beyond four years increased the years paying tuition and probably the overall debt.  This is one of the reasons that public university may not be quite as much of a bargain as they seem.

Anyway, to see the list of the best values in public education, see this chart.
To see a similar list for the private universities, see this chart

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