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Facing out-of-state tuition at a public college can be daunting. The average annual sticker price for nonresidents at public colleges is $31,701, up from $30,704 last year, according to the College Board.
Still, the annual cost is considerably lower than the average price for a private education ($40,917), and it’s much less than the $50,000-plus that some private institutions charge. Many public colleges also offer significant financial aid to out-of-state students, including need-based aid (in grants, not loans) for those who qualify.
These ten institutions from Kiplinger's list of the 100 best values in public colleges provide academic quality at a manageable price -- sometimes with generous financial aid -- for out-of-state students. Take a look.
By Marc A. Wojno, Senior Associate Editor
| December 2013
Ildar Sagdejev via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #1
Annual total out-of-state cost: $41,458 (natl. avg., $31,701 for tuition, fees, room and board)
Undergrad enrollment: 18,503
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 77%; 6-yr., 90% (natl. avg., 4-yr., 32%; 6-yr., 53%)
Avg. debt at graduation: $16,983 (natl. avg., $29,400 for 2012)
Chapel Hill consistently earns high grades for its outstanding quality, including its above-average graduation rates, competitive student-faculty ratio (14-to-1) and high-achieving student body (25% of incoming freshmen scored 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and 32% scored 700 or higher on the math section).
Although its annual out-of-state sticker price is a steep $41,458, need-based aid drops the price for those who qualify by 32%, to $28,236, on average. Chapel Hill's out-of-state cost might be a tad higher than the average for private schools ($40,917), but it’s a bargain compared with the $57,000-plus per-year price tags of nearby private universities Duke and Wake Forest.
gargola87 via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #2
Annual total out-of-state cost: $50,801
Undergrad enrollment: 15,822
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 87%; 6-yr., 93%
Avg. debt at graduation: $21,591
UVA's number-two status in the overall rankings reflects its high academic standards across the board. More than one-third of its incoming freshmen scored 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and almost half scored 700 or higher on the math portion. The school has a highly competitive admission rate (30%) and the highest four-year graduation rate (87%) on our top-100 list.
Out-of-state students will also notice another high figure: an annual sticker price of nearly $51,000. But UVA's generous need-based aid reduces the average amount by 36%, to $32,456, making UVA an easier lift for those who qualify. This prestigious university's alumni include President Woodrow Wilson, former attorney general and senator from New York Robert F. Kennedy, and CNET co-founder Shelby Bonnie.
bdesham via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #20
Annual total out-of-state cost: $29,122
Undergrad enrollment: 5,388
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 67%; 6-yr., 79%
Avg. debt at graduation: $21,000
This small western New York honors college, located 35 miles south of Rochester, makes the top ten for its combination of academic quality and affordability. Geneseo is one of two schools in our top ten with a total cost of less than $30,000 a year for out-of-staters, and the price drops to $24,387, on average, after applying need-based aid.
As for academic quality, Geneseo attracts smart students who compete for the privilege of attending: Its admission rate is a competitive 46%. Of the incoming freshmen class, 23% scored 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and 26% scored 700 or higher on the math portion. Geneseo's four-year graduation rate (67%) is one of the highest in Kiplinger's top-100 schools. Students enjoy a full academic and social life: The school offers 64 majors and minors in 23 academic departments, and it has more than 170 student-led organizations, contributing to a freshmen-retention rate (the percentage of students who return for sophomore year) of 90%.
Whhalbert via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #15
Annual total out-of-state cost: $32,152
Undergrad enrollment: 12,356
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 68%; 6-yr., 79%
Avg. debt at graduation: $23,710
Located on 930 acres along the Susquehanna River, less than four hours from New York City, this research university attracts students from throughout the U.S. and more than 100 other countries for its range of programs -- more than 50 undergraduate majors in six schools -- and for its affordability, especially for those who qualify for financial aid. (The annual average cost for out-of-staters after factoring in need-based aid is $24,922.)
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.
Chris Radcliff via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #5
Annual total out-of-state cost: $51,730
Undergrad enrollment: 27,941
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 71%; 6-yr., 92%
Avg. debt at graduation: $20,409
With more than 5,000 courses and 125 majors offered across 109 departments, UCLA attracts students eager to earn a high-quality education in one of most dynamic cities in the country. This highly competitive university accepts only 22% of applicants -- the second-lowest admission rate on our list. Those students are top achievers: 21% of incoming freshman scored 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and 47% scored 700 or higher on the math portion.
Don't be discouraged by the high, $51,730 sticker price for out-of-state students. A 34% reduction after need-based aid brings the average per-year price to $34,361.
benuski via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #4
Annual total out-of-state cost: $49,262
Undergrad enrollment: 6,171
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 83%; 6-yr., 90%
Avg. debt at graduation: $24,344
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 $58,000 a year or more. And nonresidents who qualify for financial aid get an even better deal, paying an average $36,413 a year after need-based aid is applied.
William and Mary's academic stats speak to its value: This small college has a competitive admission rate of 32%, an impressively high freshmen-retention rate (the percentage of students who return for sophomore year) of 96%, a low student-faculty ratio (12-to-1) and one of the highest four-year graduation rates (83%) of our top-100 public colleges.
Ufgatorman via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #3
Annual total out-of-state cost: $39,140
Undergrad enrollment: 32,776
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 64%; 6-yr., 85%
Avg. debt at graduation: $19,636
Never mind the warm weather: The University of Florida’s stellar academic programs and affordable price are reason enough for students throughout the country to flock to this flagship institution. UF’s admission rate is a competitive 44%, and the school has 16 colleges and more than 100 undergraduate majors . Health care, genetics research, biomedical sciences and the school of business are just four departments that are helping to shape this 161-year old university -- the oldest in the state -- into a leading national educational institution.
Although the out-of-state sticker price ($39,140) is higher than the average, the net cost drops nearly 20%, to $32,956, after need-based aid is applied . UF’s lively campus life and arts scene and its active sports environment (hello, Gator Country) add to its appeal: 96% of freshmen come back for their sophomore year.
Tomwsulcer via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #34
Annual total out-of-state cost: $37,678
Undergrad enrollment: 6,545
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 72%; 6-yr., 87%
Avg. debt at graduation: $33,889
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 (94%) 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 -- 72% -- puts it ahead of powerhouses UCLA and UC Berkeley.
Although the out-of-state cost at the College of New Jersey is above average, nonresidents who qualify for need-based aid pay 30% less than the sticker price, for an annual cost of $26,459.
Derhai via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #12
Annual total out-of-state cost: $21,640
Undergrad enrollment: 5,872
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 57%; 6-yr., 74%
Avg. debt at graduation: $22,922
This midwestern university may be small in size, but its high-quality academics (25% of the freshman class scored 30 or higher on the ACT) and low sticker price ($21,640 for students who live outside Missouri) make it big in value. After factoring in need-based financial aid, the cost for out-of-state students drops 30%, to $15,120, making Truman State the third-least-expensive on our top-100 list.
Founded in 1867 and later named after Harry S. Truman, the only Missourian to serve as U.S. president, Truman State offers more than 40 undergraduate majors, from business administration and communications to health sciences and exercise science. Notable alums include Army Gen. John Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, and modern-day celebrities such as actress Jenna Fischer from television’s The Office.
James Steakley via Wikimedia Commons
In-state rank: #8
Annual total out-of-state cost: $36,207
Undergrad enrollment: 30,863
Graduation rate: 4-yr., 54%; 6-yr., 83%
Avg. debt at graduation: $24,700
Located on nearly 1,000 acres alongside Lake Mendota, this picturesque, 166-year old flagship land-grant university in southern Wisconsin offers more than 130 undergraduate majors, 148 master’s programs and 107 doctoral programs, for a total of more than 4,200 course listings . Despite its large undergraduate enrollment (more than 30,000 students), Madison scores points for having a respectable student-faculty ratio of 17-to-1, a competitive admission rate of 55%, and a smart student body (35% of incoming freshman scored 30 or above on the ACT exam). And its affordability attracts students from outside the state. The out-of-state sticker price of $36,207 drops by 20%, to an average of $28,886, after factoring in average need-based aid.
The university is also recognized nationally for developing the Wisconsin Experience, a program that encourages students to learn leadership and problem-solving skills through community-based research, peer mentoring and other projects, such as working with disadvantaged students in local schools.
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