Finance magazine Kiplinger's Personal Finance has released its 2012 list of the 100 best-value public colleges in the US.
The University of North Carolina (UNC) of Chapel Hill ranked number one, as it has since Kiplinger's first analysis in 1998. The magazine defends the school's ranking by pointing to its "graduation rate (77%) that far exceeds the average rate for four-year public schools, a highly competitive admission rate (31%), and a total in-state cost of $18,609 a year." That's compared to the average $39,518 a year that private schools charge, according to the College Board.
SUNY Geneseo tops the list for out-of-state value because of its "reasonable total cost ($27,769 for out-of-staters, compared with an average of $30,911) and its solid academics," the magazine reports.
Five California schools made it onto the top 20 best-value public colleges list. Despite a 72 percent rise in tuition fees since 2007-8, the UC academics are top-notch, Kiplinger's found.
"UCLA ($26,888 in-state) admits just 25% of applicants, with 44% topping 700 on the math portion of the SATs and 22% exceeding 700 on the verbal portion," the magazine reports. "Fortunately, most students don’t pay the shocking sticker prices. UC schools offset their high cost with liberal financial aid."
Kiplinger's quality assessment is based on admission rate, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio, the four-year graduation rate, and other factors. Cost is based on sticker prices, financial aid, and average debt at graduation.
Check out the top 10 best-value public colleges: