CHARLOTTE, NC — When it comes to the rising expense of higher education in the U.S., the decision of where to attend for many students is largely a financial one, rooted in getting the biggest bang for the buck. In North Carolina, however, there are several colleges rated as best college values, with two topping the list of 300 schools around the nation, according to Kiplinger.
And just as students are looking to make the most of their personal investment into higher education, schools are facing increasing pressure to show they’re worth the price tag.
How much does an average year of college cost? According to the College Board, the average cost of attendance at a four-year college for the 2017-2018 academic year for in-state students is $20,770 and for out-of-state students is $36,420 a year.
"Over the past 20 years, tuition, fees, and room and board, adjusted for inflation, have increased by 59 percent at private, nonprofit four-year colleges and by a whopping 82 percent for in-state students attending public four-year colleges, according to the College Board," Kiplinger said in its recent Kiplinger’s Best College Values for 2018. "The average student-loan debt for those who borrow has increased 29 percent over the past 15 years, while the average earnings of recent college graduates—after adjusting for inflation—have remained relatively flat."
The personal finance forecaster recently compiled its annual ranking of the top 300 schools it considers high-quality education at an affordable price. Kiplinger examined school academic measures, admission rates, test scores of incoming freshmen and student-faculty ratios. It also gave extra points for on-time graduation rates of four years.
Three North Carolina schools — Davidson College, Duke University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill — ranked in the Top 20 of the Best College Values list, with two making the top ranking for best public college, best out-of-state value, and private liberal arts college.
When it comes to private liberal arts colleges, Davidson College topped Kiplinger’s list.
Here’s what Kiplinger said about Davidson College: "This small, classic liberal arts college with a splash of southern charm has climbed our rankings in recent years, thanks to a more selective admission rate and robust financial aid awards that have kept the average cost after need-based aid relatively flat," Kiplinger said. "A 90% four-year graduation rate helps solidify the school’s spot on our list. But Davidson also stands out for what it doesn’t do: saddle students with debt. In 2007, Davidson became the first liberal arts college to eliminate loans from all financial aid packages, instead meeting 100% of students’ demonstrated financial need through scholarships, grants and campus jobs."
Kiplinger also ranked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the best public college and the best out-of-state value.
Here’s what Kiplinger said about UNC: "Stellar academics, including an 84 percent four-year graduation rate (among the highest of all public colleges on our list) and a 13-to-1 student-faculty ratio help cement the Tar Heels’ spot. Need-based aid awards averaging more than $17,000 a year make this public research university a bargain for in-state students who qualify—cutting the school’s in-state cost to $4,905 a year."
Here are the Top 20 Rankings in Kiplinger’s Best College Values.
Princeton University Davidson College Swarthmore College Harvard University Duke University Pomona College Vanderbilt University Rice University Washington and Lee University Wellesley College Williams College Dartmouth College Yale University Thomas Aquinas College University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Vassar College Massachusetts Institute of Technology California Institute of Technology Amherst College Stanford University
You can see the entire rankings that include four-year graduation rates, annual cost and post-graduation salary averages here.
Photo via Pixabay