Jan 5, 2011

Area Schools Score Well Among Kiplinger’s ‘Best Values’ in Public Colleges

More than 10 percent of the 100 public colleges listed as “Best Values” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine may be found in either Maryland or Virginia.

While the University of Virginia retained its number 3 ranking for the fifth time in six years, the University of Maryland moved up from number eight last year to number five in 2010-11—just behind the College of William & Mary, at number 4.

Acknowledging that the financial environment for colleges and universities could “hardly be worse,” Kiplinger’s points out, “Over the past few years, states have cut funding for colleges and universities by tens of millions of dollars, leaving schools much smaller budgets to cope with increased enrollment and greater demand for financial aid.”

The future doesn’t look much better as federal stimulus money, “which provided crucial support,” will soon run out, and states are likely to continue slashing support for public education.

“The takeaway for soon-to-matriculate students: Look for schools that deliver an outstanding, affordable education in good times and bad.”

Kiplinger’s bases its rankings on a combination of academics and affordability, with “academic quality,” carrying more weight than cost. Total expenses for in-state students (tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, and books), as well as the availability of financial aid (not loans) and the average debt per student at graduation are factors in computing overall cost.

In this year’s ranking, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill came in number one for the 10th straight year, and the University of Florida continued to hold down the number two spot. Other top 10 schools include the State University of New York-Binghamton University, SUNY-Geneseo, University of Georgia, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the University of Washington.

The article applauded UVa and the College of William & Mary for maintaining positions among the top five “Best Values” since the ranking was first published in 1998. Both schools draw high-scoring freshmen and post the highest four-year graduation rates on the list. UVa was also singled out for offering outstanding financial aid to students with need through AccessUVa.

Other Virginia universities ranked in the top 100 were James Madison (19), Virginia Tech (24), the University of Mary Washington (26), and George Mason (61). In Maryland, “Best Values” included St. Mary’s College of Maryland (40), Salisbury University (60), Towson University (78) and the University of Maryland Baltimore County (91).

Local colleges also scored well among "Best Values" for out-of-state students, with UVa at number 5, Maryland at 6, and the College of William & Mary at number 10.

Illustration provided by Wikipedia

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