Once again, UNC-Chapel Hill tops ‘best value’ rankings among all public universities

UNC-Chapel Hill offers students a better value for their college education than any other public university in the country, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

Carolina has topped Kiplinger’s list of “best value” public schools for 18 years in a row, since the magazine started publishing the rankings. UNC also worked its way up 12 spots to second place among private and public institutions. It earned top honors for best in-state and out-of-state value.

“Carolina’s top rankings say a great deal about the dedication and excellence of our faculty, students and staff,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz in a news release. “At Carolina, we are committed to helping our students achieve their dreams in every area of human endeavor. To accomplish this, we provide a superb and affordable education, without fear of overwhelming debt, that prepares our students to solve the grand challenges of our time.”

Kiplinger recognized UNC for its “strong academics” and 84% four-year graduation rate, which it said is among the highest of all the public colleges on the list. And while the university’s sticker prices for in-state and out-of-state students is similar to other colleges, the “generous need-based aid awards make UNC a bargain” for prospective students.

For the 2019-20 school year, the cost of tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students is $8,980 for North Carolina residents and $36,159 for out-of-state residents.

Nearly 40% of full-time undergraduate students receive need-based financial aid at Carolina and 40% percent of the class of 2017 graduated with no student loan debt, according to the university. Students who took out loans graduated with an average debt of $22,214, which is about $6,500 less than the national average.

“One of the best ways we can serve North Carolina and the world is by sending out well-equipped graduates unburdened by excess debt. But our commitment doesn’t end there,” Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, said in a news release. “We want to ensure that all our students, no matter who they are or where they come from, have the resources and the encouragement they need to pursue their dreams to the fullest.”

One of UNC’s biggest financial aid programs aimed at keeping college accessible is the Carolina Covenant. For 15 years, the program has helped eligible, low-income students graduate debt-free by covering their tuition through grants, scholarships and employment.

Several other North Carolina universities are working to make college more affordable for students with unique scholarships, tuition options and financial aid packages.

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Kiplinger’s measures academic quality, including incoming students’ SAT or ACT scores, retention rates, student-faculty ratios, four-year graduation rates, cost, student debt and financial aid to compile its rankings.

Duke University and Davidson College, both private institutions, made the top 10 best value among all higher education institutions. Duke was ranked 3rd-best among private universities. Wake Forest University and Elon University both ranked in the top 30 among private schools and in the top 100 overall.

No other North Carolina universities made the top 100 overall.

N.C. State ranked 17th on the list among public universities and Appalachian State was ranked 18th and UNC Wilmington was ranked 32. Western Carolina and UNC Asheville both landed in the top 100 among public universities. East Carolina, UNC Charlotte and UNC Greensboro were included in the assessment but not ranked.

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