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UNC-CH tops 'best value' list for public universities

Posted January 4, 2011

— Kiplinger's personal finance magazine says UNC-Chapel Hill is the "best value" for an education in the U.S. – again.

Carolina has topped the list for "a remarkable 10 times running," the magazine reports in its annual survey that was disclosed Tuesday.

In a tough economic climate, students and families are looking for value, Kiplinger's says.

"Look for schools that deliver an outstanding, affordable education in good times and bad. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill … is a prime example," the report notes. "Carolina's admission rate remains among the lowest on our annual list; its students are among the most competitive; and its in-state cost, at $17,000, is not much higher than the average price ($16,140) for all public universities. For students who qualify for need-based aid, the total price for this top-tier university drops to an average of $7,020."

North Carolina State University ranks 15th.

Other schools in the top 60 include:

  • UNC-Wilmington, 27
  • Appalachian State, 35
  • UNC School of the Arts, 48
  • UNC-Asheville, 58

Evaluation criteria include academic quality, student-to-faculty ratio, admission rate, four-year graduation rate, and affordability.

Read here for the full report.



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  • unc70 Jan 4, 2011

    It is nearly impossible for anyone now to imagine just how bad things were in NC of my youth. Segregation, of course. But horrible poverty, poor schools, few paved roads, outhouses the norm, no electricity in rural areas, and more.

    Try to see the documentary "Change Comes Knocking" through UNC-TV or the pictures online at the UNC Law School center on poverty ... (the one Edwards started, that one).

    The rest of the country viewed Southern blacks AND whites as so genetically and morally inferior, lacking initiative, work ethic, and intelligence that the entire South would forever be inferior and a burden on those hardworking, enlightened, upstanding citizens of the rest of the country.

  • unc70 Jan 4, 2011

    You ask HOW we have a "top university" and "the worst public school systems". Easy answer. We do not have anything approaching "the worst public school systems". Our schools in NC are far better than one is lead to believe by those who whose alarmist attacks have changed little in fifty years.

    What has changed is public education in NC, the enormous gains by all our people, the common good, in the face of resistance by those, whether for financial or political gain, ideology, prejudice, or their individual rights -- their freedom to be ignorant, proud of it, and ready to rise up against the threat posed by those who are not.

    It was true in 1960, NC was at or near the bottom among states, competing with Mississippi for worst schools, highest poverty, lowest literacy, most rural, worst health.

    MS remains near the bottom. NC has made huge gains, working together, avoiding major racial conflict, and by investing in public education at all levels for all the people of NC.

  • scientistjo Jan 4, 2011

    "how can the state of NC have one of the top university systems in the country and the worst public school systems in the same country at the same time. Anybody ?"

    There aren't a lot of kids from downtown Durham going to UNC.

  • unc70 Jan 4, 2011

    Even if all sections have the same tests, mid-terms, finals, many other confounding factors that still make it hard to really see what is going on. You can't really do any statistics and not much else, unless the students in each section were assigned completely at random or randomly from constrained subsets of similar students -- for example based on SAT scores and gender.

    In practice, the self-selection of students makes the sections quite different in many ways. Sections at the same time as the large lectures for intro chem or physics would not include any of the students taking those other courses, who I would expect to be good in calculus.

    German classes might have a similar pattern involving chem majors. Practice schedules for varsity sports would cause other ripple effects. Many such patterns carry over from year to year.

    The large intro course with common exams are mostly taught by grad students, leaving after a year or two.

    A real mess. Typical.

  • rollinsox007 Jan 4, 2011

    State and UNC both made the list. Both great schools. Goes to show you how good of a state university system we have. Only issue I have with the rankings is why graduation rate was included in the decision making process. Just because a school can graduate people, doesn't make it a better school than another. I know UNC has gotten in a bit of hot water with that in the past 10 or so years.

  • I am not who you think I am Jan 4, 2011

    how can the state of NC have one of the top university systems in the country and the worst public school systems in the same country at the same time. Anybody ?

  • Mr. French Jan 4, 2011

    It may come as a surprise that I and several generations of my family attended UNC. I hope my children do as well. No one can question my UNC credentials or loyalty to my alma mater.

    What I can question, however, is how supposed supporters of my alma mater can continue justifying activities in Chapel Hill with the childish excuse that "Everybody else does it." That used to be unacceptable at UNC. That's what the "Carolina Way" was all about.

    There is a know fact among academics that my alma mater has the most highly inflated grades of any nearly any large university, private or public, in the state. The article I sited recognizes this as well. I thought we were on our way to fixing things, but the football scandal has convinced me otherwise.

    The "Carolina Way" has now come to mean that we justify our sins by saying "everyone else does it" and we pad our pockets by lowering our standards in the classroom.

    That's the truth, like it or not.

  • jscott13 Jan 4, 2011

    So...has anyone else spoken to a number of UNC kids lately and asked about the difficulty they are having getting classes, especially in their majors. We know a good many and they can"t get into classes...all full. I don't think that the people who rate these universities ask all of the pertinent questions.

  • Proud Black Constitutionalist Jan 4, 2011

    That's why I came to school here.


    Promise me you left your Northeast political viewpoints in New York. We have enough Northeast liberals here already.

  • unc70 Jan 4, 2011

    Private schools in NC directly receive $1,950 per year for each NC student enrolled under the NC Legislative Tuition Grant program. Campbell over $5 million last year; Gardner-Webb, $3 million; Mount Olive, over $3 million; Duke, $1.7 million. Not based on need, only that school be nonprofit and based in NC, students must be NC residents, and their studies are not for the ministry or similar religious studies.

    There are several other State programs that provide tuition grants, etc. to the students that in turn benefit the private and religious colleges and universities.

    See for details on this and other financial assistance for students in NC.

    Since these are non-profit colleges and often under some religious affiliation, they are exempt from many taxes themselves.

    The most conservative religious colleges probably don't advertise how much taxpayer monies they are receiving each year.