January 4, 2010 — The University of Virginia retained its No. 3 ranking for the fourth time in five years in the "100 Best Values in Public Colleges" list, released today by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.
The February issue hits newsstands Tuesday.
An article accompanying the rankings points out that all public universities are being buffeted by the same forces: state funding cuts, losses in endowments and greater demand for financial aid. "Meanwhile, enrollment at state institutions has spiked as more students go public and more people overall seek college degrees," the magazine says.
The schools that made Kiplinger's list "continue to deliver strong academics at reasonable prices, in many cases by offering the same or more financial aid as in previous years."
The magazine lists U.Va.'s in-state total price – including tuition, fees and room and board – at $19,312, but $4,815 after the average financial aid package. Thanks to AccessUVa, the University's financial aid program, 100 percent of a student's financial need is met, and the average debt at graduation is just over $19,000.
Meanwhile, the ranking points out, the University offers a 15-to-1 student-faculty ratio, and 92.9 percent of students graduate within six years. The rankings also take into account admission and retention rates.
"This ranking is important because of what it means for our students," U.Va. President John T. Casteen III said. "They will have access to a superior education at a good price, with necessary sources of financial aid.
"In today's economy, families are hard-pressed to pay the costs of higher education. Even as our colleges and universities contend with funding reductions, we must renew our commitment to keeping education affordable for our nation's young people."
As with last year's ranking, U.Va. trails only the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. Rounding out the top 10 are the College of William & Mary, State University of New York-Binghamton University, University of Georgia, University of Washington, University of Maryland-College Park, SUNY-Geneseo and North Carolina State University.
Other Virginia universities ranked were Virginia Tech, No. 16; James Madison University, No. 21; University of Mary Washington, No. 38; and George Mason University, No. 64.
Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said U.Va. will remain a good value for students and their families only with sustained funding for AccessUVa. The University announced in September that it would target the financial aid program during the final third of its $3 billion Campaign for the University. So far, about $2 million has been raised toward an initial goal of $25 million.
"We hope to have an AccessUVa endowment of $200 million by 2020," Sandridge said.
The commitment to AccessUVa complements efforts to further distinguish the University through academics and research, Arthur Garson Jr., executive vice president and provost, said.
"Value is a meaningless concept without the academics to back it up," he said. "U.Va. isn't standing still. New programs that enhance the undergraduate experience, such as the Jefferson Public Citizens, along with financial aid, make U.Va. an even better value."