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3 area colleges and universities rank in top 10 for value

Wednesday - 1/4/2012, 12:37pm  ET

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Rounding out the top five on the list are University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Florida, University of Virginia, College of William and Mary and New College of Florida. (Thinkstock Photo)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - If you and your teen are looking for colleges and universities that offer the best value for your money, you won't have to look far.

The University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg and the University of Maryland in College Park finished third, fourth and eighth, respectively, on Kiplinger's Personal Finance's rankings of the 10 top values in colleges and universities.

Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranked the schools by annual cost and graduation rates, as determined by the number of sophomores who completed their degrees, which Kiplinger's says is an indication of education quality.

Mark Wojno, editor at Kiplinger, says the current economic climate has increased the value of public colleges and universities.

"We look at low sticker prices, and we look at schools that offer a lot of financial aid," says Wojno.

He says that's particularly important with enrollments climbing and tuition costs going up across the country.

Currently, annual tuition at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville runs $21,626. At the University of Maryland in College Park, yearly tuition is $19,409.

It costs an average of $39,000 a year to send your child to a private college, while public colleges average about $17,000 a year for in-state students.

Several other local schools were in Kiplinger's top 100. James Madison University in Harrisonburg ranked No. 28. Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg was No. 44. George Mason University in Fairfax was No. 50 and Towson University in Maryland ranked 76th.

Kiplinger's says the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the best bang for your buck for the eleventh straight year. Tuition for in-state students there is $17,628, but out of state students pay $37,454 a year.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)