UNC is Best Bargain, Eight Years Running

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine has ranked the UNC the best value in American public higher education for the eighth consecutive time.

Carolina has topped this list every time Kiplinger’s has produced it since 1998. The new ranking appears in the magazine’s December issue, which is scheduled for newsstands Nov. 11.

The ranking represent schools offering the best “combination of outstanding academic quality and an affordable price tag,” Kiplinger’s says.

The universities of Florida, Virginia and Georgia ranked second, third and fourth, respectively, followed by the College of William and Mary and the State University of New York Geneseo – the same order as in the last ranking. Rounding out the top 10 were Binghamton University, also part of SUNY, New College of Florida and the universities of Maryland at College Park, and California at San Diego.

Other UNC System schools listed were N.C. State, 18; UNC-Wilmington, 25; Appalachian State, 29; UNC-Asheville, 43; and UNC-Greensboro, 98.

The Kiplinger’s story, “Best Values in Public Colleges,” quotes Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 as saying, “The experience here is comparable to one you’d get at a major private research university, and we intend to keep it that way.”

“UNC students of every background have equal reason to be thrilled at the opportunity to share classrooms with other high-achieving students and learn from a nationally acclaimed faculty,” the Kiplinger’s story reports. “The historic campus is undergoing a major refurbishing that includes the FedEx Global Education Center, a hub for international studies, as well as a state-of-the-art physical sciences complex.”

The ranking is based on several measures of academic quality, including the percentage of the 2007-08 first-year class scoring 600 or higher on the verbal and math components of the SAT; admission and retention rates; student-faculty ratios; and four- and six-year graduation rates.

Academic quality measures account for about two-thirds of the total ranking. Then Kiplinger’s ranks each school based on cost and financial aid. Factors include total cost for in-state students (tuition, required fees, room and board, and estimated book expenses); the average cost for a student without need after subtracting non need-based grants; the average percentage of need met by aid; and the average debt a student accumulates before graduation.

This fall, Carolina enrolled 3,864 new students drawn from a record 21,507 applications – a 20 percent increase in applications over the past five years. Seventy-nine percent of first-year students were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes; almost 43 percent were among the top 10 students in their graduating classes.

The Kiplinger’s story also notes the University’s commitment to the Carolina Covenant, which provides qualified low-income students with a debt-free education. The first class of Carolina Covenant Scholars graduated last May. The Carolina Covenant funds the full financial need of each scholar for four years with a combination of scholarships, grants and work-study jobs.

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