10 Best Values in Public Colleges, 2016

In 2015-16, the average sticker price for in-state students at a four-year public school was $19,548 (including tuition, fees, and room and board), according to the College Board.

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In 2015-16, the average sticker price for in-state students at a four-year public school was $19,548 (including tuition, fees, and room and board), according to the College Board. Given that the total average sticker price for private schools reached $43,921 for 2015-16, attending an in-state public college remains an effective way to keep college costs in check. The schools that earn top honors on our public colleges list range from small colleges to immense flagship universities, but they all meet our definition of value: a high-quality education at an affordable price.

To find the best value in public colleges and universities, we look at measures of academic quality, including a competitive admission rate, a low student-faculty ratio and a high four-year graduation rate. On the financial side, we look for schools with reasonable price tags, solid financial aid for students who qualify, and a low average debt among students who borrow. Our public college rankings are based on costs for in-state students.

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Kaitlin Pitsker
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Pitsker joined Kiplinger in the summer of 2012. Previously, she interned at the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y., and with Chronogram magazine in Kingston, N.Y. She holds a BS in magazine journalism from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.