Note: To see Kiplinger's story and rankings chart, click here.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine has ranked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the number one 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 hits newsstands Nov. 11.
Kiplinger’s top 100 public colleges and universities represent schools offering the best “combination of outstanding academic quality and an affordable price tag.”
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 (SUNY) Geneseo – the same order as in Kiplinger’s last ranking. Rounding out the top 10 were Binghamton University, also part of SUNY, New College of Florida and the universities of Maryland, College Park, and California, 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.
“Carolina offers a rare combination of quality academics and affordability that stands out among America’s public universities,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp.
Kiplinger’s story, “Best Values in Public Colleges,” accompanying the ranking quotes Thorp 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,” 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.”
Kiplinger’s 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 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.
Kiplinger’s story explores current trends surrounding merit-based scholarships, a topic Thorp has been talking about, including in his installation speech, since taking office in July. Carolina plans to be “more competitive on the merit-aid side,” Thorp is quoted as saying. Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, which has a circulation of about 800,000, has been providing Americans with advice on managing their money and achieving financial security since 1947.
Carolina meets the full need of middle-income students who apply on time and qualify for need-based aid, with financial aid packages made up of two-thirds grants and scholarships and one-third loans and work-study.
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.
Kiplinger’s story also reports on the early success of the Carolina Advising Corps, which expanded this fall to serve more than 7,000 seniors in 38 North Carolina high schools. Corp counselors, who include recent Carolina graduates, bring the message to seniors that going to college, including at UNC-Chapel Hill, is a realistic goal. Counselors help navigate the complex college admissions process. The corps is based in the University’s undergraduate admissions office. The goal is to encourage low-income, first-generation and under-represented students to attend college.
Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, http://www.kiplinger.com/tools/colleges/
Best Values in Public Colleges for 2008-2009,
Kiplinger's Slideshow, http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/
UNC background, http://uncnews.unc.edu/
Contacts: Mike McFarland, UNC Director of University Communications, (919) 962-8593. Laura Stevens, The Rosen Group, (202-862-4372,
), can arrange interviews with Jane Bennett Clark, who wrote Kiplinger's story.