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Slide Show | January 2013

10 Best Values in Public Colleges for Out-of-State Students, 2013

Public colleges continue to face challenges despite the improving economy. With cuts in state appropriations, colleges have increased class sizes, curtailed programs and asked out-of-staters to pay a bigger part of the tab. A 4.1% increase over last year brings the average annual sticker price for nonresidents to $30,911, according to the College Board.

Still, that cost is considerably lower than the average price for a private education ($39,518) and much less than the annual $50,000-plus that elite private institutions charge. Many public colleges also offer significant financial aid to out-of-state students.

These ten institutions, which appear on Kiplinger's list of the 100 best values in public colleges, represent the schools that provide academic quality at a manageable price -- sometimes with generous financial aid -- even for out-of-state students.


10 Best Values in Public Colleges for Out-of-State Students, 2013

1. SUNY Geneseo

In-state rank: #9

Annual out-of-state cost: $27,769

Undergrad enrollment: 5,485

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 69%; 6-yr., 81%

Avg. debt at graduation: $21,000

This small western New York honors college, located 35 miles south of Rochester, takes top honors for its combination of academic quality and affordability. The already-low annual cost for out-of-staters, $27,769, drops to $23,297 after need-based aid is applied.

As for academic quality, Geneseo makes a point of selecting smart students; its admission rate is a competitive 43%. Of the incoming freshmen class, 24% scored 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and 20% scored 700 or higher on the math portion. Geneseo's four-year graduation rate (69%) is one of the highest in Kiplinger's top 100 rankings. On their way to a diploma, students enjoy a rich academic and social life: The school offers 66 majors and minors in 23 academic departments, and it has more than 170 student-led organizations, contributing to a freshmen retention rate of 91%.

1. SUNY Geneseo

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In-state rank: #1

Annual out-of-state cost: $39,361

Undergrad enrollment: 18,430

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 77%; 6-yr., 90%

Avg. debt at graduation: $17,525

Chapel Hill consistently earns high grades for its stellar quality for all students, including above-average graduation rates, a competitive student-faculty ratio (14:1) and a gifted student body (26% of incoming freshmen scored 700 or higher on the verbal SAT, and 30% scored 700 or higher on the math section).

Although its annual out-of-state sticker price is a steep $39,361, need-based aid drops the price for those who qualify by 32%, to $26,787. Chapel Hill's out-of-state cost is on par with the average for private schools ($39,518) and a bargain compared with the $55,000-plus per-year price tag of nearby private universities Duke and Wake Forest.

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

3. SUNY Binghamton

In-state rank: #12

Annual out-of-state cost: $30,241

Undergrad enrollment: 11,861

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 67%; 6-yr., 78%

Avg. debt at graduation: $22,634

Located on 930 acres along the Susquehanna River, less than four hours from New York City, this research university attracts students throughout the U.S. and more than 100 other countries for its range of programs -- it offers more than 50 undergraduate majors in six schools -- and for its affordability, especially for those who qualify for financial aid. (The annual cost for out-of-staters after need-based aid is $23,462.)

Among the facilities that support Binghamton's academics are its Innovative Technologies Complex (featuring bioengineering and clinical research labs), the 1,200-seat Anderson Center for the Performing Arts, and the University Art Museum, which houses more than 3,000 pieces of modern and ancient art.

3. SUNY Binghamton

4. University of Virginia

In-state rank: #2

Annual out-of-state cost: $48,597

Undergrad enrollment: 15,762

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 87%; 6-yr., 94%

Avg. debt at graduation: $20,951

UVA's number-two status in the overall rankings reflects its academic standards across the board. Thirty-five percent of its students scored 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and 43% scored as high on the math portion. The school has a highly competitive admission rate (33%) and the highest four-year graduation rate on our top-100 list (87%).

Out-of-state students will also notice another high figure: the annual sticker price of nearly $49,000. But UVA's generous need-based aid offsets that amount, reducing the price by 35%, to $31,416, and making UVA affordable to those who qualify. This prestigious university's alumni include U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, former attorney general and senator from New York Robert F. Kennedy, and CNET founder Shelby Bonnie.

4. University of Virginia

5. College of New Jersey

In-state rank: #24

Annual out-of-state cost: $36,728

Undergrad enrollment: 6,504

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 73%; 6-yr., 86%

Avg. debt at graduation: $32,754

Known for its 289-acre Georgian Colonial-style campus and proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, this small public college has a strong freshman retention rate (95%) and a competitive admission rate (46%). It offers a diverse selection of more than 50 liberal arts and professional programs across seven schools. The low, 13-to-1 student-faculty ratio allows students to get plenty of attention from faculty and staff, and the high four-year graduation rate -- 73% -- puts it on par with the University of Michigan and behind only the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, and UNC Chapel Hill.

Although the out-of-state cost at the College of New Jersey is above average, nonresidents who qualify for need-based aid pay 28% less than the sticker price, for an annual cost of $26,532.

5. College of New Jersey

6. College of William and Mary

In-state rank: #4

Annual out-of-state cost: $47,724

Undergrad enrollment: 6,071

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 85%; 6-yr., 91%

Avg. debt at graduation: $20,835

The second-oldest college in the country (after Harvard), W&M is a public liberal arts institution with the quality and feel of one of the Ivies. But its out-of-state cost is well below the price of those elite private institutions, several of which charge $57,000 a year or more. And nonresidents who qualify for financial aid get an even better deal, paying an average $35,615 a year, on average, after need-based aid.

William & Mary's academic stats speak volumes about its value: This small college has a competitive admission rate of 35%, an impressively high freshmen retention rate of 95%, a low student-faculty ratio (12:1) and one of the highest four-year graduation rates (85%) of our top 100 public colleges.

6. College of William and Mary

7. University of California, Los Angeles

In-state rank: #6

Annual out-of-state cost: $49,766

Undergrad enrollment: 27,199

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 68%; 6-yr., 90%

Avg. debt at graduation: $18,814

With more than 5,000 courses and 125 majors offered across 109 departments, UCLA is a magnet for students eager to earn a high-quality education in one of most dynamic cities in the country. This highly competitive university accepts only 25% of applicants, and accepted students are top achievers: 22% of incoming freshman scored 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and 44% scored 700 or higher on the math portion. Don't be discouraged by the high, $49,766 sticker price for out-of-state students. A 33% reduction after need-based aid brings the average per-year price to $33,107.

7. University of California, Los Angeles

8. University of California, Berkeley

In-state rank: #8

Annual out-of-state cost: $51,927

Undergrad enrollment: 25,885

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 71%; 6-yr., 91%

Avg. debt at graduation: $17,116

The $50,000-plus sticker price for out-of-state students makes Berkeley one of the priciest schools on our list for nonresidents, but need-based aid brings the cost to a more manageable $35,713, on average, for those who qualify. Also worth noting is Berkeley's low average debt at graduation -- $17,116, compared with the $26,600 average amount for students who borrow.

Both in-staters and out-of-staters enjoy access to an outstanding education. Berkeley's academic attributes include a four-year graduation rate of 71%, a 97% freshman retention rate and an admission rate of 22% -- the lowest of our top 100 public colleges. Of the incoming freshmen class, 36% scored 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and 58% scored 700 or better on the math portion.

8. University of California, Berkeley

9. SUNY Stony Brook

In-state rank: #22

Annual out-of-state cost: $29,924

Undergrad enrollment: 15,926

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 45%; 6-yr., 67%

Avg. debt at graduation: $20,371

This SUNY school, on the North Shore of Long Island, is one of the most selective schools on our list, with an admission rate of 39%. It is also one of only three in our top 25 to charge an out-of-state sticker price of less than $30,000 (the others are Truman State, which charges $21,456 and SUNY Geneseo, which charges $27,769). The cost for out-of-staters after need-based aid -- $22,543 -- is 25% less than the out-of-state sticker price and among the lowest on our list.

Stony Brook offers 68 majors and 78 minors across 200 academic programs. All but 2% of its faculty have either doctoral degrees or hold the highest degrees in their fields. Stony Brook faculty are responsible for more than 1,700 inventions and more than 500 patents. Students appreciate such high-quality instruction: 92% of freshmen stay on for their sophomore year.

9. SUNY Stony Brook

10. University of Maryland, College Park

In-state rank: #5

Annual out-of-state cost: $38,310

Undergrad enrollment: 26,775

Graduation rate: 4-yr., 66%; 6-yr., 82%

Avg. debt at graduation: $24,180

Maryland jumped several slots on our overall list this year thanks in part to an improved four-year graduation rate (66%, up from 63% in 2011) and a minimal increase in total cost over the past year. Although out-of-state students pay almost $40,000 (but only $30,878, on average, for those who qualify for need-based aid), the school's proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., along with its top-notch faculty and myriad on-campus activities, make Maryland an attractive prospect for students throughout the country.

Maryland's other attractions include a strong student body (20% of incoming freshmen who took the SAT scored at least 700 points on the verbal portion and 35% scored as well on the math portion), a competitive admission rate of 45% and a freshmen retention rate of 95%, a reflection of how freshmen value this flagship university.

10. University of Maryland, College Park

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