Features

September/ October 2013 Standout Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Schools

By Devin Castles, Katelyn Fossett, and Ben Florsheim

With Duke University and the University of North Carolina thriving on outstanding academic and research reputations (and with UNC offering an impressive value proposition itself—see our complete list), NCSU might seem like a third wheel. But the Raleigh campus offers resources commensurate to, or exceeding, the others at an astonishingly low net cost for a flagship research institution. A member of the federal TRIO program, NCSU offers a series of outreach and support services to students, including a Talent Search program that provides hands-on counseling to thousands of middle and high school students in the state and offers educational assistance to those with the potential to succeed at the college level. Once they get to NCSU, Student Support Services continues to reach out with tutoring, career counseling, and financial aid advice, helping to deliver better-than-expected graduation rates.

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, MORRIS (MN)

Predicted grad rate: 60%
Actual grad rate: 60%
Net price: $9,255

Reason it made the cut: One of the only public liberal arts schools in the nation, UMM ranks just behind cash-rich Amherst and Williams for bang for the buck among schools of its type.

Morris students, a third of whom are first-generation college-goers, shoulder the lowest debt burden in the University of Minnesota system, and among the lowest in the Midwest. The public school price tag, in tandem with a low student-to-faculty ratio of 15 to 1 and other private/liberal arts school attributes, makes Morris a unique value proposition. And if a liberal arts degree may not seem like the most efficient ticket to social mobility in a depressed economy, consider this: 94 percent of recent Morris grads either went on to pursue advanced degrees or found employment within a year of leaving school, which they attribute to the resources, reputation, and connections that the campus enjoys as part of the University of Minnesota system. In addition to being able to choose from thirty-five different liberal arts majors, Morris’s 1,900 students can select from eight preprofessional programs like engineering and nursing, as well as an online learning program—reminders of that public school status and network despite the school’s small size and capacity.

Devin Castles, Katelyn Fossett, and Ben Florsheim are all interns at the Washington Monthly.

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