January 4, 2011 — The University of Virginia retained its No. 3 ranking for the fifth time in six years in the "100 Best Values in Public Colleges" list, released today by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.
The financial environment for colleges and universities couldn't be worse, the magazine points out. "Over the past few years, states have cut funding for colleges and universities by tens of millions of dollars, leaving schools much smaller budgets to cope with increased enrollment and greater demand for financial aid," the article says. "Federal stimulus funding, which provided crucial support, will soon run out, and Medicaid continues to deplete state coffers.
"The takeaway for soon-to-matriculate students: Look for schools that deliver an outstanding, affordable education in good times and bad."
The magazine lists U.Va.'s in-state total price – including tuition, fees and room and board – at $20,647, but $5,692 after the average financial aid package. Thanks to AccessUVa, the University's comprehensive financial aid program, 100 percent of a student's financial need is met, and the average debt at graduation is under $20,000.
"This ranking is a special tribute to the success of Access UVa and to our institution's deep commitment to eliminating cost as a barrier to students who are accepted here," President Teresa A. Sullivan said. "Despite today's economic challenges and the hardships many families face when considering the rising cost of college tuition, U.Va. remains a symbol of access and affordability."
The article highlighted U.Va. and the College of William & Mary, which retained its No. 4 ranking.
"Two Virginia schools deserve special Kiplinger kudos for consistently maintaining their position among our top five since our first rankings, in 1998," the article said, citing graduation rates, high-achieving incoming students and attractive financial aid packages.
For out-of-state students, U.Va. was the No. 5 best value among public colleges and universities.
Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the best value ranking is a particularly rewarding one. "Our faculty and staff have been committed to the delivery of quality educational and support programs in tough economic times," he said.
"However," he added, "our focus simply is to be the best university we can be every day. When we do, the rankings tend to take care of themselves."
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill came in at No. 1 for the 10th straight year, and the University of Florida continued to hold down its No. 2 spot. Rounding out the top 10 are U.Va., the College of William & Mary, University of Maryland-College Park, State University of New York-Binghamton University, SUNY-Geneseo, University of Georgia, University of Wisconsin at Madison and University of Washington.
Other Virginia universities ranked in the top 100 were James Madison University, No. 19; Virginia Tech, No. 24; University of Mary Washington, No. 26; and George Mason University, No. 61.