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10 Best College Values, 2015


For the first time, Kiplinger’s presents a combined ranking of best values in private and public colleges. As always, our rankings reward schools that meet our definition of value – a high-quality education at an affordable price. Among the factors that we consider: high four-year graduation rates, low student-faculty ratios, reasonable price tags, generous need-based aid for students who qualify and low student debt. Our combined list compares private universities, liberal arts colleges and public colleges (based on out-of-state costs) to help you compare the options side-by-side.

The average sticker price of a private college or university in 2014-15 is $42,419, according to the College Board, while the average sticker price for out-of-state students at a public college is $32,762. There are no public universities in our top-ten best values list. But you will notice that our combined list is dominated by private universities and liberal arts colleges. How can a private institution, such as Yale, with an annual sticker price of almost $61,000, be a good value compared with a public school such as the University of Wisconsin – Madison, with an annual out-of-state sticker price of about $36,000? Private colleges and universities typically have higher graduation rates (reducing the likelihood that students will spend a costly extra year on campus) and offer more generous financial aid packages (driving down the net price) than public institutions – both of which make private colleges and universities more affordable than their sticker price suggests.

These 10 schools are the cream of the crop for their academic excellence and the generosity of their financial aid packages.

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