UNC ranked best academic value for 12th time in a row

Dec. 27, 2012 @ 04:26 PM

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranks as the No. 1 value in American public higher education because it offers students “stellar academics” at a bargain price, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.
For the 12th time in a row, UNC-Chapel Hill ranked first on Kiplinger’s list of the 100 universities and colleges that provide the best value to in-state students. The magazine also listed Carolina second for the best value offered to out-of-state students.
Kiplinger’s periodically has ranked the best public campus values since 1998; Carolina has been first every time. The new ranking appears in the February issue, posted Thursday at www.kiplinger.com/links/college.
“Access and affordability are what allow us to attract great students from a broad range of backgrounds with different interests and different career goals,” said UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp in a news release. “I can’t think of an aspect of this University that is more crucial to who we are. It’s the marriage of that with the academic excellence that creates the environment and the unique nature of Carolina.”
The universities of Florida, Virginia and the College of William and Mary ranked second, third and fourth, followed by the University of Maryland at College Park (fifth), New College of Florida (seventh) and the universities of California at Los Angeles (sixth), Berkeley (eighth) and San Diego (10th). The State University of New York at Genesco ranked ninth for in-state value and first for out-of-state value.
Other UNC system campuses on the list are N.C. State, 21st; UNC School of the Arts, 31st; UNC-Wilmington, 32nd; Appalachian State, 36th; and UNC-Asheville, 52nd.
Kiplinger’s assesses quality according to a number of measurable standards, including the admission rate, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio and the four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include low sticker prices, abundant financial aid and low average debt at graduation.
Kiplinger’s story, “Best Values in Public Colleges,” focused on how Carolina, “a perennial favorite,” came out on top yet again. “Credit its stellar academics, reasonable sticker price and generous financial aid,” wrote Susannah Snider, Kiplinger’s staff writer.
The story pointed out that Carolina is one of only two top public universities (along with Virginia) that meet 100 percent of the documented need for all undergraduate students, including qualified out-of-state students.
“Meeting full need is a huge challenge, but it is such a high priority for us that we make whatever adjustments we have to,” UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said in the story.
Despite absorbing more than $230 million in state budget reductions since 2008, the University was able to hold its budget steady this year and even give a modest raise to faculty members, the first in four years. The faculty retention rate went up and so did the number of class sections.
“We’re getting things back to where they were,” Thorp said in Kiplinger’s. “And we’re happy about that.”
Data considered for Kiplinger’s top 100 list included total cost for in-state students (tuition, fees, room and board, and book expenses); the average cost for a student with need after subtracting non need-based grants (not loans); the average percentage of need met by aid; and the average debt a student accumulates before graduation. For the out-of-state ranking, the magazine recalculated academic quality and expense numbers using total costs for non-resident students and average costs after financial aid.
N.C. undergraduates pay $7,694 in tuition and fees, while out-of-state students pay $28,446. “Carolina’s total annual cost runs less than $20,000—a bargain compared with private schools, which run an average of $39,518 a year, according to the College Board,” the Kiplinger’s story said, noting that the total annual cost for in-state students after need-based aid awards was $6,035.