The Best College Values of 2018

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Kiplinger has named its 300 Best College Values for 2018. Introduced in 1998, the rankings now combine public schools, private universities and private liberal arts colleges into a single, comprehensive list. Kiplinger also ranks the 100 best values in each category. The analysis is based on objective measurements of academic quality and affordability, not subjective criteria.

This year, Princeton University takes the #1 spot on the overall list, followed by Davidson (which is also first among private liberal arts colleges) and then Swarthmore College. Swarthmore topped last year’s combined list. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is ranked best public college for the 17thconsecutive time.

The full rankings are now available online at kiplinger.com/links/colleges and will appear in print in the February 2018 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands January 9.

“Our rankings, which weigh affordability alongside academic quality, are a great resource for students and their parents when sorting through college choices,” said Mark Solheim, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “We start with a universe of nearly 1,200 schools and trim the list using measures of academic quality. We then rank the schools based on cost and financial aid data. All 300 schools on our list are worth a look.”

At Kiplinger.com, visitors have access to the “Find the Best College for You” tool and other resources that let readers sort by admission rate, average debt at graduation and other criteria for all schools, plus in-state and out-of-state cost for public colleges. Also online: slide shows of the top ten schools in different categories, archives of past years’ rankings and an FAQ on the ranking methodology.

Below are highlights from this year’s rankings:

Top 50 Overall College Values:

Total Cost
Per Year*
Average Need- Based Aid Undergrad Class Average Debt
1. Princeton University $61,140 $47,497 $8,908
2. Davidson College 64,903 41,998 20,431
3. Swarthmore College 67,110 45,536 22,957
4. Harvard University 66,609 48,598 16,702
5. Duke University 69,598 47,133 22,256
6. Pomona College 68,125 46,039 18,738
7. Vanderbilt University 64,542 41,331 24,122
8. Rice University 60,658 36,772 22,497
9. Washington and Lee University 63,880 42,292 26,397
10. Wellesley College 67,784 45,178 13,415
11. Williams College 68,500 48,885 15,496
12. Dartmouth College 69,787 46,770 17,849
13. Yale University 70,570 50,565 13,625
14. Thomas Aquinas College 32,500 14,225 16,986
15. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 47,748 17,260 20,852
16. Vassar College 69,010 47,176 18,462
17. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 65,612 41,767 24,954
18. California Institute of Technology 66,027 41,901 18,219
19. Amherst College 69,500 50,380 18,662
20. Stanford University 66,184 45,318 21,987
21. Wesleyan University 68,170 42,457 22,495
22. Hamilton College 67,170 41,825 21,491
23. Bowdoin College 66,820 42,206 23,120
24. Columbia University 72,627 50,733 23,463
25. College of the Holy Cross 65,320 35,521 25,446
26. Hillsdale College 38,552 7,275 26,941
27. Grinnell College 64,014 39,444 18,780
28. Colorado College 66,124 42,451 20,742
29. Cornell University 68,163 39,595 23,389
30. Emory University 64,510 40,816 29,217
31. Haverford College 71,614 46,009 13,000
32. University of Florida 39,779 7,083 21,645
33. University of Richmond 63,830 39,874 27,670
34. Johns Hopkins University 69,310 38,238 23,593
35. Brown University 69,010 44,105 23,810
36. Centre College 52,180 28,880 26,740
37. Smith College 67,574 41,786 23,857
38. Middlebury College 68,464 45,035 18,736
39. Carleton College 67,237 38,382 22,641
40. Washington University in St. Louis 68,531 40,509 23,577
41. University of Pennsylvania 69,880 43,899 24,536
42. Barnard College 69,912 43,183 22,015
43. Boston College 68,738 37,716 20,481
44. University of Chicago 73,560 43,792 23,852
45. Bryn Mawr College 67,410 40,315 23,081
46. University of Notre Dame 67,445 37,390 28,406
47. Whitman College 63,704 32,952 18,089
48. Kenyon College 67,740 39,897 26,746
49. Wheaton College 45,796 20,622 27,354
50. Colby College 67,515 43,906 27,953


*For public colleges, the listed figure is total cost per year for out-of-state students.


Top 10 Values in Private Universities:

 

Total Cost
Per Year
Average Need- Based Aid Undergrad Class Average Debt
1. Princeton University $61,140 $47,497 $8,908
2. Harvard University 66,609 48,598 16,702
3. Duke University 69,598 47,133 22,256
4. Vanderbilt University 64,542 41,331 24,122
5. Rice University 60,658 36,772 22,497
6. Dartmouth College 69,787 46,770 17,849
7. Yale University 70,570 50,565 13,625
8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 65,612 41,767 24,954
9. California Institute of Technology 66,027 41,901 18,219
10. Stanford University 66,184 45,318 21,987


Top 10 Values in Private Liberal Arts Colleges:

 

Total Cost
Per Year
Average Need- Based Aid Undergrad Class Average Debt
1. Davidson College $64,903 $41,998 $20,431
2. Swarthmore College 67,110 45,536 22,957
3. Pomona College 68,125 46,039 18,738
4. Washington and Lee University 63,880 42,292 26,397
5. Wellesley College 67,784 45,178 13,415
6. Williams College 68,500 48,885 15,496
7. Thomas Aquinas College 32,500 14,225 16,986
8. Vassar College 69,010 47,176 18,462
9. Amherst College 69,500 50,380 18,662
10. Wesleyan University 68,170 42,457 22,495

 

 

Top 10 Values in Public Colleges (for in-state students):

 

In-State Cost Out-Of-
State Cost
Undergrad Class Average Debt
1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $22,165 $47,748   $20,852
2. University of Florida 17,501 39,779 21,645
3. University of Virginia 29,321 59,856 24,598
4. University of Michigan 27,072 59,722 25,712
5. University of California, Berkeley 30,780 58,794 18,789
6. University of California, Los Angeles 30,066 58,080 21,323
7. University of Washington 23,916 48,480 21,900
8. University of Texas at Austin 21,130 47,476 25,338
9. North Carolina State University 20,994 39,342 21,507
10. University of Maryland, College Park 23,731 46,938 27,559

For additional information or to schedule an interview, contact Kailey McGarvey at 646-695-7046 or Kailey@rosengrouppr.com

More on Methodology

The editors at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance start with data from nearly 1,200 public and private four-year schools, provided by Peterson’s. The list is then narrowed to the top schools based on measures of academic quality, including SAT or ACT scores, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, and four-year graduation rates. The editors then rank the schools using cost and financial aid measures. Academic quality carries more weight than costs.

About Kiplinger

For nine decades, the Kiplinger organization has led the way in personal finance and business forecasting. Founded in 1920 by W.M. Kiplinger, the company developed one of the nation’s first successful newsletters in modern times. The Kiplinger Letter, launched in 1923, remains the longest continuously published newsletter in the United States. In 1947, Kiplinger created the nation’s first personal finance magazine. Located in the heart of our nation’s capital, the Kiplinger editors remain dedicated to delivering sound, unbiased advice for your family and your business in clear, concise language. Become a fan of Kiplinger on Facebook or Kiplinger.com and follow Kiplinger on TwitterLinkedIn and Tumblr.

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