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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC earns top ranking in Kiplinger’s for 12th time

The University ranks as the top 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, Carolina 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, 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 Chancellor Holden Thorp. “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 Geneseo ranked ninth for in-state value and first for out-of-state value.

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 because of stellar academics, reasonable sticker price and generous financial aid. (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.)

About 37 percent of Carolina undergraduates borrow to pay for their education, with an average debt at graduation of $17,525, fourth lowest in the Kiplinger’s top 10 and well below the national average of $25,000.

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.”

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