Princeton University in New Jersey not only ranks as the No. 1 school in the U.S. News 2019 Best Colleges ranking, but it also snatches the top spot as the Best Value school among National…
Princeton University in New Jersey not only ranks as the No. 1 school in the U.S. News 2019 Best Colleges ranking, but it also snatches the top spot as the Best Value school among National Universities.
Among National Universities, institutions that offer a full range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral programs, other schools that offer value for the money include Harvard University in Massachusetts and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in this year’s Best Value rankings.
The vast majority of National Universities that rank in the top 10 Best Value Schools are private institutions. While many of these schools charge a hefty sticker price, the average cost of attendance after subtracting need-based grants at these universities ranged from around $15,500 to slightly more than $23,000 per year in 2017-2018. Need-based grants are typically awarded based on a family’s household income and economic eligibility.
For 25 years, U.S. News has provided information on the Best Value Schools, a ranking that measures academic quality and price and factors in other cost considerations such as the number of undergraduates who receive need-based financial aid and the average tuition discount; the higher the discount percentage, the better. Families determining a college’s affordability can turn to this ranking for information on which institutions offer the best value.
A top-ranked Best Value school provides a stellar learning environment at a reasonable cost. To earn a spot on the list, like Princeton and Harvard, colleges must rank in or near the top half of their Best Colleges rankings category. A school must also provide a low net cost of attendance for students — that means the amount a family pays after scholarships and grants are awarded must be relatively low.
The University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill is the highest-ranking public university among National Universities for Best Value, grabbing the No. 8 spot. The school’s Carolina Covenant strives to help low-income students graduate debt-free. To be eligible for the Carolina Covenant, an undergraduate student’s family must earn less than double the federal poverty level, which is around $50,000. UNC–Chapel Hill’s average cost of attendance after need-based grants in the 2017-2018 year was slightly more than $17,000 a year.
Best Value Schools aren’t limited to just National Universities — they run the gamut from National Liberal Arts Colleges to Regional Colleges to Regional Universities.
For the third year in row, Williams College in Massachusetts ranks as the Best Value school among National Liberal Arts Colleges. California’s Pomona College, which ties at No. 5 in Best Colleges with three other schools, clenched the No. 2 spot for Best Value school.
“We make need-based financial aid a top priority in our budgeting and fundraising because access to college is crucial for the future of the U.S. and the world. This is an enduring commitment,” says Mark Kendall, a Pomona College spokesperson.
The California college awarded need-based grants to 57 percent of its undergraduates. After factoring in the average need-based grant awarded in 2017-2018, the average net total cost of attendance for Pomona dropped to $18,011. For full-rate students, Pomona charges $52,780 for tuition and fees in 2018-2019. But the majority of undergraduates at Pomona don’t pay at the full rate.
The College of the Ozarks in Missouri, a work college, ranks No. 3 among Regional Colleges in the Midwest is the No. 2 Best Value school in this category. The school uses a combination of on-campus employment, government aid for those eligible and institutional scholarships to make education tuition-free for its 1,500 students. Student jobs at the Christian liberal arts college range from working with tourists to performing administrative tasks in the dean’s office.
For those looking beyond regional colleges and universities, U.S. News identified the best values among National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges. Below are the schools in those categories that topped the 2019 Best Value rankings. Total costs listed for each school include tuition, fees, room and board, supplies and other expenses.
Best Value Schools: National Universities
School name (state)
Average cost after need-based grants (2017-2018)
Percentage of undergraduates receiving need-based grants (2017-2018)