The Best Value Colleges of 2017

By Kiplinger, Special for USDR

Kiplinger has named its 300 Best College Values for 2017. The rankings, introduced in 1998, now combine public schools, private universities and private liberal arts colleges into a single, comprehensive list. Kiplinger also ranked the top 100 best values in each category.  Unlike other rankings, which include subjective criteria in their assessments, Kiplinger restricts its analysis to measurable standards of academic quality and affordability. Kiplinger’s was the first ranking to focus on value, their core mission.

Swarthmore College took the #1 spot on the overall list, followed by Davidson and then Princeton, which took first place among private universities. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was ranked best public college for the 16th consecutive time. Washington and Lee, which earned the #1 spot on last year’s overall list, took third place for best liberal arts college, after Swarthmore and Davidson.

The full rankings are now available online at kiplinger.com/links/colleges and will appear in print in the February 2017 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands January 3.

“There’s no way around it: College is expensive, and it’s going to stay that way for a long time. So, with our rankings—which weigh affordability alongside academic quality—our goal is to help students and their parents understand what’s really worth the price,” said Janet Bodnar, Editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “While some schools ranked higher than others, all 300 schools on the list are of extraordinary value, being chosen out of a universe of nearly 1,200 schools.”

At Kiplinger.com, visitors have access to the “Find the Best College for You” tool and other tools that let readers sort by admission rate, average debt at graduation and other criteria for all schools, plus in-state and out-of-state cost for public colleges. Also online: slide shows of the top ten schools in different categories, archives of past years’ rankings and an FAQ on the ranking  methodology.
Kiplinger’s quality measures, which are weighted more heavily than cost, include the admission rate, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio and the four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include sticker price, financial aid and average debt at  graduation.

Below are highlights from this year’s rankings, including the top 50 overall values and each category’s top 10 schools.

Top 50 Overall College Values:

Total Cost
Per Year*
Average Need- Based Aid Undergrad Class Average Debt
1.     Swarthmore College $64,840 $44,256 $18,262
2.     Davidson College 62,923 40,140 19,929
3.     Princeton University 61,140 44,890 8,577
4.     Duke University 66,963 44,725 19,104
5.     Washington and Lee University 61,447 42,322 21,683
6.     Harvard University 64,565 46,409 16,723
7.     Thomas Aquinas College 32,500 14,977 16,901
8.     Vanderbilt University 62,598 40,267 21,506
9.     University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 46,576 17,244 20,127
10.  Wellesley College 65,016 44,218 12,455
11.  Middlebury College 65,332 41,778 17,797
12.  Pomona College 65,857 42,064 13,381
13.  Yale University 68,230 47,960 15,521
14.  Amherst College 67,446 49,134 15,756
15.  Williams College 66,280 46,007 16,593
16.  Wesleyan University 66,062 41,244 24,860
17.  Rice University 58,448 36,025 25,528
18.  Bowdoin College 64,340 41,582 20,883
19.  California Institute of Technology 63,000 38,983 20,677
20.  Stanford University 63,996 43,167 21,238
21.  Brown University 66,106 43,045 22,197
22.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology 63,662 39,775 23,485
23.  Colby College 64,795 42,468 23,342
24.  Vassar College 66,390 45,109 17,847
25.  Grinnell College 61,638 38,612 15,982
26.  Dartmouth College 67,839 44,780 19,135
27.  College of the Holy Cross 62,865 33,714 25,613
28.  Columbia University 70,048 47,490 25,167
29.  Hamilton College 65,250 41,170 17,654
30.  Emory University 62,664 39,440 26,983
31.  University of Richmond 61,980 38,985 26,250
32.  Colgate University 66,070 43,321 20,859
33.  Haverford College 67,919 45,390 14,750
34.  Colorado College 63,808 40,539 22,068
35.  Carleton College 64,893 36,482 20,063
36.  Hillsdale College 36,922 8,079 26,225
37.  Cornell University 65,813 38,377 24,394
38.  Wheaton College 44,410 21,380 26,593
39.  University of Notre Dame 65,093 35,807 27,237
40.  University of Pennsylvania 67,280 41,598 26,157
41.  Georgetown University 66,709 40,104 23,067
42.  University of Chicago 70,542 42,467 21,291
43.  Johns Hopkins University 67,106 36,687 24,702
44.  Scripps College 67,464 36,444 18,692
45.  Barnard College 67,142 40,661 20,008
46.  University of Virginia 57,774 20,137 24,905
47.  Boston College 66,364 36,755 20,849
48.  Macalester College 63,028 35,887 21,937
49.  Bates College 66,550 39,933 19,917
50.  Kenyon College 65,230 39,628 27,000


*For public colleges, the listed figure is total cost per year for out-of-state students.


Top 10 Values in Private Universities:

 

Total Cost
Per Year
Average Need- Based Aid Undergrad Class Average Debt
1.     Princeton University $61,140 $44,890 $8,577
2.     Duke University 66,963 44,725 19,104
3.     Harvard University 64,565 46,409 16,723
4.     Vanderbilt University 62,598 40,267 21,506
5.     Yale University 68,230 47,960 15,521
6.     Rice University 58,448 36,025 25,528
7.     California Institute of Technology 63,000 38,983 20,677
8.     Stanford University 63,996 43,167 21,238
9.     Brown University 66,106 43,045 22,197
10.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology 63,662 39,775 23,485

 


Top 10 Values in Private Liberal Arts  Colleges:

 

Total Cost
Per Year
Average Need- Based Aid Undergrad Class Average Debt
1.     Swarthmore College $64,840 $44,256 $18,262
2.     Davidson College 62,923 40,140 19,929
3.     Washington and Lee University 61,447 42,322 21,683
4.     Thomas Aquinas College 32,500 14,977 16,901
5.     Wellesley College 65,016 44,218 12,455
6.     Middlebury College 65,332 41,778 17,797
7.     Pomona College 65,857 42,064 13,381
8.     Amherst College 67,446 49,134 15,756
9.     Williams College 66,280 46,007 16,593
10.  Wesleyan University 66,062 41,244 24,860

 

 

Top 10 Values in Public Colleges for In-State Students:

 

In-State Cost Out-Of-
State Cost
Undergrad Class Average Debt
1.     University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $21,494   $46,576      $20,127
2.     University of Virginia, Charlottesville 28,433 57,774 24,905
3.     University of California, Berkeley 30,813 57,495 17,869
4.     College of William and Mary 34,389 54,900 26,017
5.     University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 26,952 57,330 26,034
6.     University of California, Los Angeles 29,541 56,223 21,596
7.     University of Florida, Gainesville 17,501 39,779 21,028
8.     University of Maryland, College Park 23,139 45,003 26,818
9.     Georgia Institute of Technology 24,160 44,352 25,182
10.  University of Georgia, Athens 22,256 40,466 22,087


More on  Methodology

The editors at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance start with data from nearly 1,200 public and private four-year schools, provided by Peterson’s. The list is then narrowed to the top schools based on measures of academic quality—including SAT or ACT scores, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, and four–year graduation rates. The editors then rank the schools using cost and financial aid measures. Academic quality carries more weight than costs.

About Kiplinger

For nine decades, the Kiplinger organization has led the way in personal finance and business forecasting. Founded in 1920 by W.M. Kiplinger, the company developed one of the nation’s first successful newsletters in modern times. The Kiplinger Letter, launched in 1923, remains the longest continuously published newsletter in the United States. In 1947, Kiplinger created the nation’s first personal finance magazine. Kiplinger.com is the fastest growing Web site in the personal finance space. Located in the heart of our nation’s capital, the Kiplinger editors remain dedicated to delivering sound, unbiased advice for your family and your business in clear, concise language. Become a fan of Kiplinger on Facebook or Kiplinger.com and follow Kiplinger on Twitter, LinkedIn and  Tumblr.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.
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