These ten schools represent the top of the top. Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011

Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University

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The schools in our top 100 public colleges list stand out for their strong academics, affordable price and generous financial aid. These ten schools represent the top of the top.
By Jane Bennett Clark
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 2 of 11

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dan Sears/UNC-Chapel Hill

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 17,981
SAT: 73% scored 600 or higher on verbal/83% scored 600 or higher on math; ACT: 90% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 14
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 74%/87%
Total In-State Cost: $17,000
Total Out-of-State Cost: $35,614
Average Debt at Graduation: $14,262

This outstanding research institution delivers its education for a total cost in-state of $17,000, only a little more than the average price -- $16,140 -- for public institutions nationally. It also offers generous financial aid to students with need, bringing the average cost after need-based aid to just over $7,000. Founded in 1789, Carolina attracts world-class faculty and leads the pack among public universities for producing Rhodes scholars.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 3 of 11

2. University of Florida

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 33,628
SAT: 61% scored 600 or higher on verbal/71% scored 600 or higher on math; ACT: 88% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 20
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 58%/83%
Total In-State Cost: $14,684
Total Out-of-State Cost: $36,961
Average Debt at Graduation: $15,932

With the lowest in-state cost -- $14,684 -- of our top-ten-ranked schools, UF represents a bargain even for families who don’t qualify for financial aid. Most in-state students do qualify for assistance, thanks to the merit-based program known as Bright Futures. At $9,759, the cost after non-need-based aid is among the lowest on our list.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 4 of 11

3. University of Virginia

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Undergraduate Enrollment:15,464
SAT: 78% scored 600 or higher on verbal/84% scored 600 or higher on math; ACT: 94% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 16
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 85%/93%
Total In-State Cost: $20,647
Total Out-of-State Cost: $43,593
Average Debt at Graduation: $19,939

Also known as Mr. Jefferson’s Academical Village (as in founder Thomas Jefferson), UVA posts the highest graduation rates in our rankings and offers the most generous need-based financial aid. The average need-based package -- $14,955 -- reduces the price for students who qualify to a bargain-basement $5,692.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 5 of 11

4. College of William and Mary

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,836
SAT: 83% scored 600 or higher on verbal/85% scored 600 or higher on math; ACT: 94% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 11
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 82%/91%
Total In-State Cost: $21,972
Total Out-of-State Cost: $42,996
Average Debt at Graduation: $18,410

Second only to the University of Virginia in graduation rates, this small, historic institution attracts high-achieving students and gives them the luxury of learning in small classes. The 11:1 student-faculty ratio is among the lowest on our list.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 6 of 11

5. University of Maryland -- College Park

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 26,493
SAT: 67% scored 600 or higher on verbal/82% scored 600 or higher on math
Student/Faculty Ratio: 18
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 63%/82%
Total In-State Cost: $19,042
Total Out-of-State Cost: $35,455
Average Debt at Graduation: $20,256

Maryland has held the line on costs, keeping the total for in-state students to $19,040, only a few hundred dollars over last year’s cost. The school’s proximity to Washington, D.C., its engineering and journalism programs, and its top athletic program are among the strengths that keep Maryland on a winning streak.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 7 of 11

6. Binghamton University (SUNY)

Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,704
SAT: 67% scored 600 or higher on verbal/85% scored 600 or higher on math; ACT: 94% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 20
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 70%/81%
Total In-State Cost: $19,125
Total Out-of-State Cost: $27,535
Average Debt at Graduation: $14,560

Number-one on our list for out-of-state value, Binghamton charges a total of $27,535 to out-of-state students, less than the average out-of-state cost ($28,130) for public schools nationwide. The university admits only 33% of its applicants, making it one of the most competitive schools in our top 100.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 8 of 11

7. SUNY Geneseo

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,495
SAT: 80% scored 600 or higher on verbal/87% scored 600 or higher on math; ACT 96% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 19
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 64%/78%
Total In-State Cost: $17,393
Total Out-of-State Cost: $25,803
Average Debt at Graduation: $21,000

This small honors school in western New York vies with Binghamton University for best out-of-state value. Its total cost for out-of-staters comes in at $25,803, a bit lower than Binghamton’s, and the admission rate is a competitive 35%. Incoming freshmen keep the brainiac quotient high at Geneseo: SAT scores are among the best on our list.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 9 of 11

8. University of Georgia

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 26,142
SAT: 58% scored 600 or higher on verbal/65% scored 600 or higher on math; ACT: 87% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 18
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 51%/81%
Total In-State Cost: $18,226
Total Out-of-State Cost: $36,436
Average Debt at Graduation: $14,766

In-state residents who meet the academic requirements qualify for this flagship university’s Hope scholarship, which covers tuition, mandatory fees and books. Not surprisingly, average debt on graduation is a relatively low $14,766. UGA students also get the benefit of a great college town -- Athens -- and a top-notch athletic program. The Bulldogs have scored 25 national championships since 1999.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 10 of 11

9. University of Wisconsin – Madison

Daniel J. Simanek

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 30,343
ACT: 93% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 17
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 50%/82%
Total In-State Cost: $17,777
Total Out-of-State Cost: $33,027
Average Debt at Graduation: $21,552

Strong test scores among incoming freshmen and a relatively low sticker price for both in-staters ($17,777) and out-of-staters ($33,027) help put this school in our top ten for the first time since 2000. Unlike many schools, where in-state costs jumped by at least $1,000 over last year’s amount, Wisconsin kept its increase to only about $400.
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Top 10 Values in Public Colleges 2011 | Slide 11 of 11

10. University of Washington

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Undergraduate Enrollment: 32,718
SAT: 48% scored 600 or higher on verbal/67% scored 600 or higher on math; ACT: 79% scored 24 or higher
Student/Faculty Ratio: 12
Graduation Rate 4-yr./6-yr.: 54%/81%
Total In-State Cost: $19,135
Total Out-of-State Cost: $36,342
Average Debt at Graduation: $16,800

Despite painful, ongoing budget cuts, U-Dub maintains its position in our top ten thanks to a still-moderate $19,135 sticker price for in-state students and a student-faculty ratio (12:1) that’s more typical of a small, liberal-arts college than a major research institution.
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