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10 Best Values in U.S. Colleges, 2017


To help you sort through your college choices, we present the creme de la creme of our annual list of best value colleges and universities. These 10 schools are the top-scoring schools in our combined ranking, which compares private universities, private liberal arts colleges and public colleges (using-out-of-state costs) to help you see your options side by side. As always, we look for schools that meet our definition of best value: a blend of academic quality and affordability. Among our criteria for academic quality are a competitive admission rate, a high four-year graduation rate and a low student-faculty ratio. We look for schools with a reasonable price tag, generous financial aid for students who qualify, and low student debt at graduation. We’ve also included future earnings data, based on the median earnings of workers who started at a particular college 10 years earlier, to give you an idea of what attending a particular institution may mean for a student’s post-graduation salary.


In 2016-17, the average sticker price of a private college or university is $45,370, according to the College Board. The average sticker price for out-of-state students at public colleges is $35,370. Despite their higher price tags, private liberal arts colleges and private universities dominate the top spots on our combined list. Private colleges perform well in our rankings because they typically have higher graduation rates and more generous financial aid than public institutions – making a private education at some colleges more affordable than the in-state cost at a public school. But attending a public college – even one outside of your home state – can be a great value, too. Please take a look.

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