Top 30 Best Value Colleges in the U.S Right Now
Top 30 Best Value Colleges in the U.S Right Now

Nowadays, a college education is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Jobs that only require a high school diploma are decreasing, while positions that require a college degree are increasing considerably (Itzkowitz, 2019). However, as these job opportunities increase, so does the cost of education beyond high school. Many students who choose to pursue a college education rely on student loans and grants to fund their studies. Because of this, student loan statistics show that the total student loan debt in the U.S. has already reached $1.6 trillion in 2020 (Friedman, 2020).

The 2022 Best Value Schools rankings are based on four ranking indicators. These indicators are:

-Academic quality (overall score in 2022 Best Colleges rankings) is relative to the average discount price paid by full-time undergraduates after receiving need-based grants. This indicator is weighted 50%.

-The percentage of all full-time undergraduates receiving need-based scholarships or grants (20% weight).

-The average discount from the school's total sticker price for full-time undergraduates (10% weight).

-Among 2020-2021 full-time undergraduates who received need-based aid, the percentage of that percentage who also received a grant or scholarship – aid that students don't have to pay back (20% weight).

This last indicator above gives colleges and universities more credit for giving students a larger percent of their need-based financial aid award package as money that does not need to be paid back, i.e., scholarships or grants. This matters because even schools generous with aid may provide significant shares of it as need-based loans or work-study, both of which are less beneficial to students than aid primarily in scholarship or grant forms.

Top 30 Best Value Colleges in the U.S Right Now

1. Brigham Young University

2. Western Carolina University

3. Ferris State University

4. Eastern Illinois University

5. North Dakota State University-Main Campus

6. University of North Dakota

7. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

8. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

9. CUNY City College

10. CUNY Hunter College

11. CUNY Lehman College

12. CUNY Brooklyn College

13. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

14. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

15. CUNY Queens College

16. University of Minnesota-Morris

17. Truman State University

18. Winona State University

19. University of Wisconsin-Platteville

20. Fitchburg State University

21. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

22. Westfield State University

23. University of South Florida

24. Florida Atlantic University

25. University of Wisconsin-Stout

26. Framingham State University

27. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

28. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

29. Texas Woman's University

30. State University of New York at New Paltz

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1. Brigham Young University

Photo: usnews
Photo: usnews

Brigham Young University is a private research-intensive university. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church) and as such is known to be highly selective. Its popular majors include business management, marketing, and other related professions, as well as biology, social sciences, health sciences, and engineering. BYU facilitates research and offers graduate programs through several well-reputed institutes, including the Marriott School of Management and Reuben Clark Law School. Around 47% of the university’s undergraduate students acquire financial assistance for their studies. Furthermore, top companies with BYU graduates as employees include Lucid Software, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Qualtrics, and LDS Church.

2. Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University, located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, is the westernmost campus in the University of North Carolina (UNC) system. Situated on a 600-acre campus near the Great Smoky and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the school has been consistently ranked among the best public regional institutions in the South. The fifth oldest institution in the UNC system, Western Carolina University began as a semi-public secondary school, founded in 1889. Over the next 60 years, the school’s curriculum and scope expanded significantly and by 1949 the school was chartered as a four-year institution under the name Western Carolina Teachers College, eventually evolving even further into the university it is today.

3. Ferris State University

Photo: bigrapidsnews
Photo: bigrapidsnews

Ferris State University, located in Big Rapids, Michigan, is a public university and the ninth largest in the state. Established in 1884, the University was originally called the Big Rapids Industrial School, founded by Woodbridge Nathan Ferris, an educator from Tioga County, New York who later served as the governor of the State of Michigan and in then in the United States Senate. In 1898 the school was renamed Ferris Institute in honor of its founder. In 1949 the Institute was gifted to the State of Michigan which took control of the institution in 1950; by 1963 the school was granted another new name, Ferris State College and in 1987 achieved university status.

4. Eastern Illinois University

Eastern Illinois University is a public, 4-year school located in Charleston, IL just 50 miles west of Terre Haute, IN. The school was founded in 1895 as the Eastern Illinois State Normal School; it became Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in 1921, Eastern Illinois State College in 1947 and made university status in 1957. The 320 acre campus features both Gothic Revival and Modern architecture and several quads with tree-lined walkways and open spaces. Charleston is noted for its Native American history; many local areas contain names that refer back to the time when semi-nomadic tribes roamed the area. The campus is close to Lake Charleston, known for fishing and hiking trails. Among notable alumni are actress Joan Allen and NFL quarterback Tony Romo.

5. North Dakota State University-Main Campus

Founded in 1890, North Dakota State University is a large, land-grant public research university in Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city. While the state’s flagship, the University of North Dakota, was founded as a liberal arts and sciences institution, NDSU took the land-grant mission of providing cutting-edge (for the era) agriculture and mechanical science education and ran with it. From a small agricultural college NDSU has become North Dakota’s premiere public STEM research university, with Very High Research Activity status from the Carnegie Classification (the only R2 research university in the state) and top-tier U.S. News & World Report national ranking.

6. University of North Dakota

Photo: nationalapplicationcenter
Photo: nationalapplicationcenter

The University of North Dakota is the state’s oldest, most prominent university, founded in 1883 when North Dakota was still a territory. Built under a federal land grant, UND’s original mission was to provide the best arts and sciences education for the settlers of the frontier, and that heritage has kept UND growing and developing into the state’s flagship. With more undergraduate, graduate, and online degree programs than any other university in the Dakotas, and North Dakota’s only law and medical schools, UND has been recognized as one of the top public research universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and the premiere institution of its kind in the Northern Plains region.

7. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Southern Illinois University—Carbondale is a public institution that was founded in 1869. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,299 (fall 2020), its setting is rural, and the campus size is 1,136 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Southern Illinois University—Carbondale's ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #263. Its in-state tuition and fees are $15,240; out-of-state tuition and fees are $15,240.

Southern Illinois University--Carbondale is ranked #263 in National Universities. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

8. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Oshkosh was ranked “Best College Town” in 2019 by schools.com. UWO has one of the most successful Model UN programs in the world, receiving 35 consecutive Outstanding Delegation awards at international competitions. Nursing Schools Almanac recently ranked UWO among the top 100 public nursing schools in the nation.

The first step in determining your financial need is to calculate the estimated cost of attendance at UW Oshkosh. The Financial Aid Office establishes cost of attendance budgets based on averaged and actual costs from reported data, survey data and Bureau of Labor Statistics data. These budgets include tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other expenses.

9. CUNY City College

Photo: ccny.cuny.edu
Photo: ccny.cuny.edu

The City University of New York, more commonly known as CUNY, is New York City’s university system. It comprises a total of 25 campuses, which include an undergraduate honors college, community colleges, senior colleges, and postgraduate institutes. As such, it offers a diverse curriculum and a multidisciplinary set of programs and degrees. CUNY-Baruch College, for instance, is popular for its journalism, communication, and social science programs. The Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, also simply known as the Graduate Center, is CUNY’s principal institute for postgraduate degrees. In all, CUNY is known for offering affordable education with two in three of its undergraduate students attending tuition-free. Plus, more than 50% of CUNY students receive financial assistance for their studies but owe less post-graduation compared to their peers in other universities. Some of the top companies with CUNY alumni employees are Ernst & Young, Citigroup, Inc., and JPMCC.

10. CUNY Hunter College

In the U.S. News rankings, Hunter College placed 18th in the Regional Universities-North category. Over the last five years, Hunter has risen 24 places in this category.

Hunter was also a standout in ranking subcategories, placing 5th among Top Public Schools, 3rd in Social Mobility, and 7th as a Best College for Veterans. This year, Hunter broke into the Top 10 for Best Undergraduate Teaching, moving up from #16 in 2021. Hunter also registered in the Top 10 for Ethnic Diversity.

2022 marks the first year that U.S. News is ranking undergraduate nursing programs. Out of nearly 700 schools surveyed, Hunter’s program ranked #120, and #6 at the state level.

11. CUNY Lehman College

Photo: lehman-undergraduate
Photo: lehman-undergraduate

CUNY Lehman College is a public institution that was founded in 1968. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 12,833 (fall 2020), its setting is urban, and the campus size is 37 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. CUNY—Lehman College's ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities North, #62. Its in-state tuition and fees are $7,374; out-of-state tuition and fees are $15,320.

Lehman College is ranked #62 in Regional Universities North. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

12. CUNY Brooklyn College

CUNY Brooklyn College is a public institution that was founded in 1930. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 14,969 (fall 2020), its setting is urban, and the campus size is 35 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. CUNY—Brooklyn College's ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities North, #70. Its in-state tuition and fees are $7,440; out-of-state tuition and fees are $19,110.

Brooklyn College is ranked #70 in Regional Universities North. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

13. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

CUNY Baruch College is a public institution that was founded in 1919. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 15,774 (fall 2020), its setting is urban, and the campus size is 3 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. CUNY—Baruch College's ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities North, #16. Its in-state tuition and fees are $8,071; out-of-state tuition and fees are $19,971.

Baruch College is a City University of New York institution in Manhattan. The Newman Vertical Campus, a 17-story building, is the school's solution for college life in an urban location: Classrooms, research facilities, a recreation complex, a bookstore, a television studio and more are all housed in one blockwide complex.

14. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Photo: petersons
Photo: petersons

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a public institution that was founded in 1965. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 13,662 (fall 2020), and the setting is Urban. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. CUNY—John Jay College of Criminal Justice's ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities North, #44. Its in-state tuition and fees are $3,465; out-of-state tuition and fees are $18,000.

15. CUNY Queens College

Queens College is an above-average public college located in Queens, New York in the New York City Area. It is a big institution with an enrollment of 12,532 undergraduate students. Admissions is fairly competitive as the Queens College acceptance rate is 53%. Popular majors include Psychology, Accounting, and Economics. Graduating 53% of students, Queens College alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $34,000.

16. University of Minnesota-Morris

The University of Minnesota Morris is a public liberal arts college where students work closely with faculty and mentors to shape an education that prepares them for challenging graduate programs, productive careers, and deep civic engagement.

We’re a student-centered public university that is proud to feature a liberal arts education. As part of the University of Minnesota system, we have worldwide name recognition, access to state-of-the-art research facilities, and nationally ranked study abroad programs.

17. Truman State University

Photo: truman
Photo: truman

A small, regional university in Kirksville, MO, Truman State University may be a bit of a surprise on the Best Values ranking, especially compared to many of the heavy hitters that surround it, but don’t be fooled – Truman State is one of the best educational investments in the Midwest. Originally a teacher’s college, Truman State’s reputation has steadily grown since being named Missouri’s top liberal arts and sciences university, with a high rate of selectivity for a public university and the kind of faculty-student ratios and attention usually seen in much more elite settings.

Truman State prides itself on a high level of undergraduate research, with bachelor’s students having the opportunity to pursue the kind of independent research usually offered to graduate students at other institutions, working closely with faculty members on real scholarly pursuits. With U.S. News & World Report recognition as the #1 regional university in the Midwest, Truman State’s reputation makes it a strong presence in the job market, with some 90% of graduates finding placement in graduate school or in their careers.

18. Winona State University

Winona State University is a public, 4-year school located in Winona, MN, 110 miles down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis. The school was founded in 1858 as First State Normal School of Minnesota; it was the first university west of the Mississippi River. In 1873 the name was changed to Winona Normal School, then, in 1957 it became known as Winona State College. The school achieved university status in 1975. It was among the first schools to adopt the policy of requiring a computer for each student. The University also has 2 satellite locations in Winona West and Rochester. The 125 acre campus features traditional brick architecture centered on a main quad that hosts a gazebo, clock and park-like intersection. Among notable alumni are US Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and NFL Official Jerry Seeman.

19. University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Wisconsin - Platteville is an above-average public university located in Platteville, Wisconsin. It is a mid-size institution with an enrollment of 6,477 undergraduate students. The Wisconsin - Platteville acceptance rate is 81%. Popular majors include Mechanical Engineering, Business, and Manufacturing Engineering Technician. Graduating 56% of students, Wisconsin - Platteville alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $39,000.

20. Fitchburg State University

Photo: linkedin
Photo: linkedin

Fitchburg State University will be nationally recognized for its excellence in teaching and learning in current and emergent fields, for its commitment to transforming lives through education, and for its dedication to public service.

Fitchburg State University is a public institution that was founded in 1894. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 3,815 (fall 2020), its setting is urban, and the campus size is 45 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Fitchburg State University's ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities North, #97. Its in-state tuition and fees are $10,655; out-of-state tuition and fees are $16,735.

21. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

The public university systems of New York and California (SUNY, CUNY, UC, and CSU) get the most attention, but for pure value perhaps no state-wide public system can compete with Wisconsin. All of Wisconsin’s public universities are recognized as best values, and all carry the stamp of quality that the University of Wisconsin name suggests. So it’s appropriate that the Top 50 Best Value Residential Colleges of 2017 should close out with UW-Eau Claire.

Regularly ranked in the top 10 and top 5 public regional universities for the Midwest, UW-Eau Claire is known throughout Wisconsin for its exceptional teacher’s education, nursing, and business degree programs. Eau Claire is also one of the most community-oriented schools in the region, with required service-learning for all students, and their undergraduate research initiatives are nationally respected. For a low tuition rate, students all over Wisconsin know the opportunity that a UW-Eau Claire degree can provide.

22. Westfield State University

Photo: westfield
Photo: westfield

Westfield State University is one of the “Best Value College & Universities,” according to College Consensus’ 2020 ranking. The University is #22 overall and the second most affordable among all ranked New England colleges and universities.

College Consensus combines the results of all the most reputable college rankings publishers—including Forbes, Money, U.S. News & World Report, Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education, WalletHub, and Washington Monthly—and thousands of real student interviews from Students Review, My Plan, Cappex, and others, to provide a comprehensive ranking of a college or university’s reputation and quality.

23. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is a research-intensive public university. Its popular majors include engineering, marketing, management, biology, health sciences, social sciences, and biomedical sciences. As a university with very high research activity, it facilitates research and grants graduate programs through well-reputed institutes such as the Morsani College of Medicine, College of Public Health, School of Biomedical Sciences, Patel College of Global Sustainability, and The Center for Urban Transportation Research. It is estimated that 55% of USF’s undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid. Furthermore, some of the top U.S. companies with USF alumni in their workforce are Citibank, Lockheed Martin Corp, and Wellcare Health Plans, Inc.

24. Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University is a public institution that was founded in 1961. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 25,562 (fall 2020), its setting is city, and the campus size is 850 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Florida Atlantic University's ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #277. Its in-state tuition and fees are $6,099; out-of-state tuition and fees are $21,655.

25. University of Wisconsin-Stout

Photo: linkedin
Photo: linkedin

UW-Stout is an above-average public university located in Menomonie, Wisconsin. It is a mid-size institution with an enrollment of 6,024 undergraduate students. The UW-Stout acceptance rate is 90%. Popular majors include Business, Operations Management, and Human Development. Graduating 60% of students, UW-Stout alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $39,200.

26. Framingham State University

Framingham State University is a public, four-year, coeducational university located in Framingham, Massachusetts. Established in 1839, Framingham State University was originally founded as a Normal School in Lexington. Over the years the school changed and grew, earning the power to award Bachelor’s degrees in 1959 and its first Master degree in 1961. In 2010 the school, previously known as the State College at Framingham, officially changed its name to Framingham State University. Framingham State University is noted for its small, personalized classes and the school prides itself on offering “quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for its qualified students.”

27. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is an 1890 land-grant institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, resolution of complex issues and the empowerment of citizens and communities. The University provides a student-centered environment consistent with its core values.

Florida A&M University is ranked #202 in National Universities. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

28. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Photo: wpr
Photo: wpr

One of U.S. News & World Report’s top regional universities for the Midwest, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is one of the leading branches of the nationally-renowned UW system. UW La Crosse is known for its inclusivity and accessibility, ranked as one of the most LGBT-friendly campuses in the nation.

Originally a teacher’s college, UW La Crosse continues to excel in teacher education, but it has become best known for its health care programs such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician’s assistant. Recognized as best values by Kiplinger’s and the Princeton Review, UW La Crosse offers students solid, market-ready education and the opportunity to do great things.

29. Texas Woman's University

Texas Woman's University is priced competitvely when compared to other colleges of similar quality. Based on this information we believe it is a good price for the type of education provided.

Texas Woman’s University is ranked #36 out of #85 in Texas for quality and #11 out of #67 for Texas value.

Depending on your personal circumstances, your net price may be well below the average TWU net price, which could make this school a better value. You may quality for more financial aid, or be able to complete your degree faster than average. Get more details on TWU cost.

30. State University of New York at New Paltz

The student-faculty ratio at SUNY--New Paltz is 15:1, and the school has 36.7% of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at SUNY--New Paltz include: Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services; Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs; Education; Psychology; Social Sciences; Visual and Performing Arts; Engineering; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; English Language and Literature/Letters; and Health Professions and Related Programs. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 86%.

The State University of New York at New Paltz is a creative, diverse, challenging and supportive environment where you get a degree from a highly selective university and an education rich in experiences that will last a lifetime. At New Paltz, you are encouraged to explore and take intellectual risks, to find your passion, to begin your path and to find your voice..

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