Top 10 Best Value Public Colleges and Universities

These 10 public institutions offer an excellent education at an affordable cost, due to low tuition rates and/or generous financial aid policies. Most often costs vary greatly depending on state residency, but there are exceptions.

1. Bowie State University

Founded in 1865, Bowie State University is the fifth-oldest historically black institute (HBI) of higher learning in the United States. The university has retained its leadership role in providing quality, affordable education to African Americans while attracting an increasingly diverse student body, which now represents many ethnic backgrounds and 50 different countries. Bowie’s out-of-state tuition is very affordable; its in-state tuition of under $7,300 is rock-bottom. Nearly 70 percent of all students receive financial aid.

  • In-state tuition: $7,299
  • Out-of-state tuition: $17,875
  • Home of NASA-sponsored orbiting satellite operation and control center, the only such center in the country run mainly by undergraduates.


2. University Of West Alabama

This regional state university offers a comprehensive range of academic programs and a diverse learning environment in a safe, small-town setting. In-state tuition is very low; out-of-state tuition is reasonable. About 72 percent of students receive financial aid, with a significant number of merit-based scholarships available.

  • In-state tuition: $8,018
  • Out-of-state tuition: $14,886
  • Low 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio provides close interaction with professors


3. New College Of Florida

New College of Florida, a highly selective honors college within the state university system, provides intellectually motivated students with an intensive educational experience. The school offers Florida residents an extremely low tuition and awards financial assistance to 90 percent of all students. Of special note: The school guarantees scholarship funding to all admitted students who meet certain application dates and criteria.

  • In-state tuition: $7,040
  • Out-of-state tuition: $30,069
  • In the last five years, 33 students have won Fulbright grants—one of the highest per capita rates in the country.
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4. University Of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest state university in the country and one of the most respected public or private institutions—as well as one of the most selective. Nearly 80 percent of recent first-year students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Students benefit from strong academic programs and opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research, especially in science and medicine. In-state tuition is remarkably low, and over half the student body receives financial assistance. UNC pledges to meet the full need of admitted students who meet necessary deadlines.

  • In-state tuition: $8,591
  • Out-of-state tuition: $33,673
  • Groundbreaking Carolina Covenant™ program provides debt-free education to qualified low-income students.


5. Truman State University

Named for Harry S. Truman, the only president born in Missouri, Truman State University is that stat’s only highly selective public institution. It is consistently rated at or near the top for value by national ranking organizations, with outstanding liberal arts-focused academics and one of the most generous merit-based scholarship programs in the country. Tuition is low for both state residents and out-of-state students. A small admission bonus: application is free of charge.

  • Instate tuition: $7,430
  • Out of state tuition: $13,654
  • 70 percent of first-time freshmen receive Truman scholarship awards


6. Missouri University Of Science & Technology

From its establishment as the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1870, Missouri “S & T” has been a pioneer in technological education. Its programs in engineering, computer science, science and technology are nationally recognized as exceptional. (Among the school’s alumni are three U.S. astronauts.) Missouri S & T’s location in Rolla, rated “one of the best small towns in America,” puts it in the heart of the scenic Missouri Ozark Mountains. Tuition for Missouri residents is affordable; students from other Midwestern states can receive a reduced tuition rate through the Midwest Student Exchange.

  • In-state tuition: $9,628
  • Midwest Student Exchange* tuition: $14,322
  • Out of state tuition: $26,152
  • The school boasts a 95 percent career placement rate and its students earn some of the highest starting salaries in the country
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* For residents of Illinois,Indiana ,Kansas ,Michigan ,Minnesota ,Missouri ,Nebraska ,North Dakota andWisconsin


7. SUNY Geneseo

Located near the city of Rochester in the Finger Lakes region, the State University of New York’s Geneseo branch has been described as a “hidden gem” by the New York Times. Its tuition is very low for state residents and reasonable for out-of-state students. The school has long been noted for excellence in teacher preparation; also, recent Geneseo engineering, science and math students have won more prestigious Goldwater scholarships than students from any undergraduate school in New York, tying with Vassar.

  • In-state tuition: $6,470
  • Out of state tuition: $16,320
  • More than 40 percent of recent graduates—twice the national average—pursued full-time study right after graduation.


8. University Of Minnesota At Morris

The University of Minnesota at Morris is outstanding academically, but its tuition policy is even more exceptional: in order to attract the best students from around the country, the school charges the same low rate to in-state and out-of-state students. In addition, about 90 percent of students receive financial aid—and there are automatic academic scholarships for first-year students.

  • In-state and out-of-state tuition: $11,896 and $13,896
  • Students graduate with one of the smallest federal debt loads in the Midwest
  • The school is a national leader in sustainability initiatives and research
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9. University Of Maryland

The University of Maryland’s flagship school delivers a broad range of quality academic programs taught by a distinguished faculty that includes Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates are low, and more than 70 percent of its diverse student body receives financial aid. The school has been recognized for its outstanding first-year experience program, which may contribute to its impressive 94 percent freshman retention rate.

  • Instate tuition: $9,996
  • Out of state tuition: $31,144
  • Among the top 25 public universities, number one in graduating African American students


10. University Of Florida

With 52,000 students, a 2,000-acre campus and more than 900 buildings, the University of Florida is BIG. In fact, i’s the fourth largest university in the country. However, UF also offers small classes, undergraduate research opportunities and personalized learning environments. Its in-state tuition is remarkably low; also, 72 percent of students receive financial aid. Florid’s undergraduate programs are high-ranked nationally. Its 4,000,000-volume library is the state’s largest information resource.

  • In-state tuition: $6,381
  • Out-of-state tuition: $28,658
  • Highest graduation rate in the state; high freshman retention rate of 96 percent