UNC-Chapel Hill ranked as the number one best value among public universities for the 17th year in a row by Kiplinger, a business and financial advice publisher.
Five other public universities in North Carolina made it onto the list of top 100 best value public institutions — N.C. State University ranked ninth, Appalachian State University was 29th, Western Carolina University was 58th, UNC-Asheville was 61st and UNC-Wilmington was 62nd.
The best values are calculated based on data from almost 1,200 public and private four-year institutions provided by Peterson’s, a college information database. The final list compares the top 300 institutions based on quality and cost criteria.
In Kiplinger's article explaining the rankings, Kiplinger staff writer Kaitlin Pitsker wrote that the publisher’s definition of value is "a high-quality education at an affordable price." Therefore, financial data is analyzed and considered. The financial criteria include cost, financial aid met and average student debt at graduation.
“We use in-state cost figures for the public college rankings, but we use costs for out-of-state students on the combined list to reflect the choice families face when comparing private schools with out-of-state public colleges,” she said in the article.
Chancellor Carol Folt commended UNC students and faculty in a December 2017 statement following the release of the rankings.
The statement described the University’s commitment to affordability and excellence. The Carolina Covenant and Carolina Edge programs — as well as generous need-based financial aid packages — have expanded UNC’s affordability, Folt said.
“Only 40 percent of seniors who graduated from Carolina in 2015 accumulated any debt, compared with nearly 70 percent nationally, and the average debt among those who borrowed was $20,127, nearly $10,000 below the national average,” Folt said. “Carolina is not only committed to helping students afford college, but also to supporting them throughout their college career and on to graduation.”
Gabby Hubert, a sophomore studying English and public policy, said that as an in-state student, UNC definitely deserves the top ranking.
“In high school I really bought into the idea of private schools — especially elite privates,” Hubert said. “When I ended up going to UNC I found that, with enough initiative, I could maybe get more out of it than at a more expensive school.”
Hubert, a SURF grant recipient, is currently studying abroad in Copenhagen. She said her college experience has been positively shaped by facilities provided to UNC students.
In other aspects, Hubert said her experience has not quite been the best value for her money. Specifically, the University’s administration is not as responsive to students as it could be, she said.
“I think the lack of responsiveness is partially because the University is part of a system — it’s not its own private actor,” Hubert said. “I’m specifically thinking about the litigation rights being taken away from the Center for Civil Rights and similar controversies with Silent Sam and Delaney Robinson — I think there could have been better university action at another institution.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.