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Kiplinger’s Honors Quality, Value of U.Va. Education

Long recognized as one of the best values in higher education, the University of Virginia climbed a notch higher on the Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine list of the “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” for 2012-13.

U.Va. rose from No. 3, a position it held for six of the last seven years, to No. 2 in this year’s list, which honors four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value. The magazine hits newsstands Jan. 1, and is online now at Kiplinger.com/links/college.

The ranking underscores U.Va.’s sound financial position, the value of its financial aid program and the continuing strength of its academics. U.Va. is one of only two public universities with a triple-A rating from all three major credit rating agencies.

“Affordability and quality are in the higher education spotlight for good reason,” said President Teresa A. Sullivan. “We’re proud of our position in Kiplinger’s list of best values. It reaffirms that we’re on the right track, and more importantly, gives our students and prospective students reason to be confident that this is a great place to get a world-class education at a reasonable price.”

The magazine article cites U.Va.’s 97 percent freshman retention rate, which is tied with several other schools for the best record, and its 87 percent four-year graduation rate – highest on the Kiplinger’s list.

“After finishing in third place in our rankings consistently since February 2008, Virginia finally climbed to second place. Credit higher test scores this year and a gentle increase in total cost,” the article says. “U.Va. is one of only two schools in our rankings to meet 100 percent of financial need. In-state students pay just $5,464, on average, after factoring in need.”

Under the AccessUVa financial aid plan, the University pledges to meet 100 percent of students' demonstrated need. The plan provides loan-free aid packages for low-income students and caps loans for all other aid recipients at one year's cost of in-state attendance. It was rated as the best in the nation among public institutions in The Princeton Review's 2013 colleges guidebook.

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.

“We applaud this year’s top 100 schools for their efforts to maintain academic standards while meeting the financial needs of their students,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill occupies the top spot on Kiplinger’s list for the 12th straight year. It’s followed by U.Va., the University of Florida, the College of William and Mary, and the University of Maryland at College Park. Schools ranked 6th through 10th are: the University of California, Los Angeles; New College of Florida; the University of California, Berkeley; State University of New York, Geneseo; and the University of California, San Diego.

This year, five California schools landed in the top 20, despite a 72 percent rise in tuition and fees since 2007-08. For the current academic year, U.Va. in-state tuition and mandatory fees increased by 3.7 percent, the lowest increase in a decade.

Other Virginia universities ranked in the top 100 are: James Madison University, No. 20; Virginia Tech, No. 28; University of Mary Washington, No. 53; George Mason University, No. 56; and Christopher Newport University, No. 87.

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