Which Colleges Offer the Most for Your Money?

We looked at quality-to-price, students who get need-based scholarships, and average discount.

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Assessing the educational quality of colleges relative to their costs is becoming a more difficult task, especially given the growing complexities of financial aid. Yet, with the cost of colleges increasing faster than most family incomes, value has become a key factor for students in selecting where to go to school.

To make it easier for families that qualify for financial aid to determine values, U.S. News has produced lists of the best college values in 10 academic categories. And because U.S News believes that the best values are found among schools that are above average educationally, only colleges in the top-half of their America's Best Colleges 2009 edition rankings category were considered for the evaluation.

Schools that are free or nearly free like: Berea College (KY) , Cooper Union (NY), U.S. Air Force Academy (CO), U.S. Coast Guard Academy (CT), U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (NY), U.S. Military Academy (NY), U.S. Naval Academy (MD), and Webb Institute (NY) have been excluded from consideration.

The Best Values rankings are based on three variables.

1. Ratio of quality to price: A school's overall score in the rankings was divided by the 2007-2008 academic year net cost to a student receiving the average need-based scholarship or grant.

2. Percentage of all undergraduates receiving need-based scholarships or grants during the 2007-2008 academic year.

3. Average discount: percentage of a school's 2007-2008 total costs (tuition, room and board, fees, books, and other expenses) covered by the 2007-2008 academic year average need-based scholarship or grant to undergraduates

We have published the lists of which schools are the best values on the free section of our website. You can go to these links to see the list of schools.

  • National Universities
  • Liberal Arts Colleges
    • Master's Universities-North
    • Master's Universities-South
    • Master's Universities-Midwest
    • Master's Universities-West
      • Baccalaureate Universities-North
      • Baccalaureate Universities-South
      • Baccalaureate Universities-Midwest
      • Baccalaureate Universities-West