College Rankings

Best College Value Snapshot: Davidson College

This liberal arts school is the total package.

Davidson College may not have the name recognition of some New England liberal arts colleges or behemoth institutions with a multitude of academic and sports programs, but this small college competes with schools of both stripes. Its selective admission standards, magnanimous financial aid awards and high four-year graduation rate make it the top-ranked school on our list of private liberal arts colleges.

Many of the school's roughly 2,000 students are attracted to Davidson for its broad-based liberal arts curriculum, its commitment to leadership and public service, and a campus culture that emphasizes mutual trust, responsibility and respect. "Our economy and world are changing so rapidly that the best education for this time is one that focuses on deep talents and broad abilities—such as problem solving, analytical reasoning, communication and collaboration—rather than narrow sets of skills," says Davidson's president, Carol Quillen.

Located in the town of Davidson, N.C., where historic homes and locally owned businesses line the streets, Davidson blends a classic liberal arts education with big-name athletics. Expansive athletic facilities are steps away from academic buildings, and roughly one-fourth of students compete in team sports. Unlike most schools of its size, Davidson's Wildcats run with the big dogs, with 21 sports competing at the NCAA Division I level.

The school's 10-to-1 student-faculty ratio ensures that students get plenty of face time with their professors. The close relationships also help professors identify students who are good candidates for research projects or other résumé-building opportunities. Because Davidson is a small town, it's not unusual for professors to chat with students while they're running errands off campus.

Kiplinger's Best College Values, 2018

 

While Davidson remains committed to a classic liberal arts education, it is also focused on preparing graduates for life outside its close-knit campus. Drawing on the Charlotte area's start-up culture, Davidson helps students combine their course work and other interests with the region's budding entrepreneurial scene. There are fledgling companies scattered throughout the town of Davidson, including one that's located behind a burrito restaurant and another above a bookstore. The school is converting an old textile factory into nearly 23,000 square feet of work space where students can launch their own projects and collaborate with companies in the community. It's scheduled to be open for business by fall 2018.

Like many of the schools on our best-values list, Davidson posts an annual sticker price of more than $60,000. But its financial aid programs have kept costs in check. Nearly half of students receive need-based aid, and the average award cuts the school's sticker price by 65%, to $22,905 a year. A robust merit-aid program awards funds to 14% of students who don't receive need-based aid; those awards average $25,572 a year. And since loans aren't part of the deal at Davidson, the average debt of the 26% of students who do borrow is $20,431, compared with the national average of $32,000. "The no-loan program is our way of telling talented students of all financial backgrounds that we want them here and will do what we can to make it possible for them to attend," says Quillen.

[EMBED TYPE=PARS ID=COLLEGE2017]

Most Popular

Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs
Coronavirus and Your Money

Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs

People have lots of questions about the new $3,000 or $3,600 child tax credit and the advance payments that the IRS will send to most families in 2021…
May 4, 2021
How the Social Security Earnings Test May Affect Your Retirement
social security

How the Social Security Earnings Test May Affect Your Retirement

If you start taking Social Security benefits before your full retirement age and decide to continue working, you need to understand how the earnings t…
May 11, 2021
Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Month
Coronavirus and Your Money

Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Month

The IRS will start issuing automatic refunds sometime in May to people eligible for the unemployment benefit tax exemption.
May 10, 2021

Recommended

What You Need to Know about College 529 Savings Plans
529 Plans

What You Need to Know about College 529 Savings Plans

Do you know how much you’re able to contribute or what the funds could be used to pay for? How about how contributing affects your taxes? Check out th…
April 14, 2021
How to Pay Off $130,000 in Parent PLUS Loans for Just $33,000
Paying for College

How to Pay Off $130,000 in Parent PLUS Loans for Just $33,000

Meet Nate. He took out $130,000 in Parent PLUS loans for his kids. The standard repayment plan will cost him over $170,000. But some smart strategizin…
April 12, 2021
Brandon Copeland: Should Student Athletes Be Paid to Play?
Brandon Copeland

Brandon Copeland: Should Student Athletes Be Paid to Play?

During the height of March Madness, Kiplinger.com contributing editor and NFL linebacker Brandon Copeland and Casey Schwab, founder and CEO of Altius…
March 29, 2021
When Choosing Funds for Your College 529 Plan, Don’t Make This Mistake
529 Plans

When Choosing Funds for Your College 529 Plan, Don’t Make This Mistake

Age-based funds make sense for some retirement savers, but they rarely make sense for college savers, in my opinion. Here’s why. This article is part …
March 13, 2021