Best value big colleges in America
Choosing the right university to attend is a tough decision. College educates us not only academically, but also socially, and where a person spends those four crucial years can impact their future trajectory in life. From choosing the right major to choosing a city to live in to the general culture of a campus, there’s a lot to consider.
However, it’s no secret that college is a hefty financial investment, and it’s important to assess which university will provide the best value for each student’s needs. If it’s the major that’s important, choosing a school that’s specialized gains priority. If it’s all about budget, there are many schools that offer academic competitiveness for a lower price tag. For those looking to come out on top of a competitive job market, a top-ranking school may be a better bet. Whatever the priorities lie, there’s a school out there that provides the value.
To help in this quest, Stacker compiled a ranking of the 50 best value big colleges using data from Niche’s 2020 Best Value Colleges in America list. The 2020 Best Value Colleges ranking is based on net price, alumni earnings, graduation rates, and student debt using data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni.
Only four-year colleges with 10,000 or more undergraduate students were considered for this list, and they are sorted by their original rank on Niche’s list. The net price, median earnings six years after graduation, acceptance rate, and student-faculty ratio for the schools are included as well. A detailed breakdown of Niche’s methodology is available here. Click through the slideshow to find the big colleges that provide the best value.
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#50. University of Texas at Dallas
- Location: Richardson, TX
- Number of undergraduates: 15,294
- Net price: $10,036
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,100
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Student-faculty ratio: 24:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #215
Founded in 1969, the University of Texas at Dallas is a public university in Richardson with a moderately competitive acceptance rate of 76%. At a net price of about $10,000, this university is a steal comparatively. The university’s most popular majors center on engineering, science, and finance.
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#49. Drexel University
- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Number of undergraduates: 13,572
- Net price: $40,977
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $68,800
- Acceptance rate: 79%
- Student-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #211
In the vibrant city of Philadelphia, Drexel University is a private university with an acceptance rate of 79%. With the student to faculty ratio of 11 to one, Drexel ensures that every student gets the attention that they need to succeed. Popular majors include nursing, mechanical engineering, and finance.
#48. University of Massachusetts Lowell
- Location: Lowell, MA
- Number of undergraduates: 10,495
- Net price: $18,375
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,300
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Student-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #208
Ranked the number two public university in Massachusetts by Niche, UMass Lowell is located in, you guessed it, Lowell, Mass., in the greater Boston area. Acceptance rates are on the moderately competitive side, accepting about 69% of applicants. Some of the most popular majors include business, criminal justice and law enforcement administration, and information science.
#47. Indiana University Bloomington
- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Number of undergraduates: 32,212
- Net price: $12,488
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,700
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Student-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #199
Indiana University Bloomington has also been named the #2 public university in its state by Niche, with the bargain price tag of $12,488. This university also boasts a low student to faculty ratio of 17 students to 1 faculty member. IU - Bloomington offers over 750 student organizations, over 25 learning communities, and more than 130 cultural organizations, to ensure that every student will find people who share their specific interests.
#46. State University of New York at Buffalo
- Location: Buffalo, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 19,401
- Net price: $16,120
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,600
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Student-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #197
This highly rated public university has a large college feel with an enrollment of 19,401 undergraduates. SUNY Buffalo is somewhat competitive with a 57% acceptance rate. Despite its high enrollment, the school maintains a low student to faculty ratio of 13 students to one faculty member. Popular majors here are business, psychology, and social science research methods.
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#45. University of Pittsburgh
- Location: Pittsburgh, PA
- Number of undergraduates: 18,390
- Net price: $22,848
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,900
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Student-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #192
Also referred to as Pitt, the University of Pittsburgh has the advantage of being located in a burgeoning art-centered city that is filled with creative coffee shops, art museums, and a young population. While the acceptance rate for undergraduates is fairly competitive at 60%, the graduation rate is very high at 82%—a testament to the quality of education. Popular majors at Pitt include psychology, liberal arts and humanities, and finance.
#44. New York University
- Location: New York, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 25,347
- Net price: $36,256
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,900
- Acceptance rate: 28%
- Student-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #185
NYU is located in the heart of New York City and prides itself on its urban, non-traditional campus. This private university is known for its long roster of celebrity alumni including Alec Baldwin, Martin Scorsese, Lady Gaga, and the Olsen twins. However, NYU isn’t the easiest to get into, with an acceptance rate of 28% of applicants. However, the price of attendance can also be a deterrent for some at $36,256.
#43. State University of New York at Stony Brook
- Location: Stony Brook, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 16,212
- Net price: $14,330
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,600
- Acceptance rate: 42%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #183
This highly rated public university is located in Brookhaven in the New York City area. Getting in is somewhat competitive with a 42% acceptance rate. However, Stony Brook boasts a high graduation rate of 72% and a reasonable net price of $14,330. Popular majors center on health studies and the sciences.
#42. George Mason University
- Location: Fairfax, VA
- Number of undergraduates: 20,221
- Net price: $18,629
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,900
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #178
This public university is ranked number six in Niche’s ranking of the top public universities in Virginia. With a high acceptance rate of 81%, George Mason University is not quite as competitive to get into, but still ensures a quality education, with graduates earning a starting salary of $44,900. Popular majors here are psychology, police and criminal science, and information technology.
#41. Auburn University
- Location: Auburn, AL
- Number of undergraduates: 21,762
- Net price: $22,613
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,800
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #176
This public university in Alabama is highly rated and has a large enrollment of 21,762. Auburn University is a large Southern college that specializes in biomedical sciences and molecular medicine, business, and accounting. With a net price of $22,613, Auburn isn’t the most affordable on the list, but it offers a high graduation rate of 77%.
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