UF still a top bargain, Kiplinger's says

Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 6:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 6:02 p.m.

Despite the University of Florida having raised tuition 15 percent, Kiplinger's Personal Finance named UF the second-best value in public colleges for the seventh year in a row in its February edition, which came out Tuesday.


Kiplinger's best values in public colleges

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2. University of Florida
3. University of Virginia
4. College of William and Mary
5. New College of Florida
6. University of Georgia
7. University of California, Berkeley
8. University of Maryland, College Park
9. University of California, Los Angeles
10. University of California, San Diego
18. Florida State University
39. University of Central Florida
63. University of North Florida
87. University of South Florida

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill remained the top value for the 11th straight year since Kiplinger's first analysis in 1998.

Senior Editor Jane Bennett Clark credited the top value schools for delivering strong academics at reasonable prices amid a climate of state budget cuts, dwindling federal stimulus money, climbing enrollment, rising tuition and high demand for financial aid.

"UF has placed well in many rankings over the years, but I think this one is especially relevant to our students and their families," UF President Bernie Machen said in a news release. "As the conversation continues statewide and nationally about the rising cost of a college education, UF consistently stands out as a remarkable value."

Kiplinger's criteria includes measures of academic quality and cost. This year's report places more emphasis on academics, which makes up 53 percent of the score based on criteria such as high test scores among incoming freshmen, a low admission rate, high rates of accepted applicants who enroll, graduation rates, student-faculty ratios and freshman retention rates.

The cost criteria includes low total expenses, generous need-based aid and low graduate debt.

According to a slide show at www.kiplinger.com/links/college, UF has 21 students per faculty, and four- and six-year graduation rates of 59 percent and 85 percent respectively.

Total in-state tuition and costs of $15,526 per year compares to a national average of $17,131 for public colleges and almost $39,000 for private colleges. Among students graduating with debt, the average is $16,013.

UF spokesman Steve Orlando said two-thirds of undergraduates have no debt at graduation while nationally two-thirds of students graduate with debt.

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