Once again, Carolina is the best value in American public higher education, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. This is the 16th time in a row the University has achieved Kiplinger’s top ranking.
Carolina took the top ranking among public colleges in two categories: best in-state and best out-of-state value.
In the overall ranking of the 300 best-value colleges and universities, UNC also moved up one spot to ninth. The University last year for the first time moved into the top 10 ranking of both public and private universities.
“Once again being recognized as the best value in American public higher education demonstrates the success of Carolina’s unwavering commitment to making the opportunities that come from attending a leading university available to students without burdening them with excess debt after graduation,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said.
Rounding out the top five for best values in public colleges are the universities of Virginia and California-Berkeley, the College of William and Mary and the University of Michigan.
The magazine’s rankings are based on its definition of value, a quality education at an affordable price. Some of the key measures for quality are admission rates, the percentage of students who return for their sophomore year, graduation rates, test scores of incoming freshmen and student-to-faculty ratios. As for the financial measures, the magazine considers overall cost of tuition, the cost of books, room and board, the average percentage of need met by aid and the average debt a student accumulates before graduation.
Nationally, 68 percent of students borrow money to pay for college and on average graduate $30,100 in debt. UNC’s numbers are significantly lower: 41 percent of its students borrow money to attend, and the average amount of debt for those graduating students is $20,127.
Currently, 44 percent of students at the University receive financial aid through programs such as the Carolina Covenant, which has offered more than 6,000 low-income students who earn admission the chance to graduate debt-free. In 2015, 60 percent of UNC seniors graduated with no debt. Another program, Carolina Firsts, creates a path of opportunity for the 20 percent of undergraduates who will be the first in their families to graduate from a four-year institution.
In 2016, UNC’s four-year graduation rate was 82 percent, up 8 percentage points since 2005. The six-year rate was 91.4 percent and rose by more than 5 percentage points.
The magazine’s report on best college values for 2017 and the complete rankings can be found online and in the February 2017 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands Jan. 3.