The 20 US public colleges that offer the best value for your money

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Some public colleges give you more bang for your buck.

Kiplinger recently released its list of 300 best-value public and private schools, ranked based on quality — including test scores of incoming students, admission rates, academic support, and graduation rates — and cost measures, such as total cost, financial aid packages, and average debt at graduation.

Read Kiplinger's full methodology.

Here, we rounded up the 20 best-value public colleges on the list for out-of-state students, along with total annual cost and average student debt at graduation for each. Note that there are separate rankings for the best-value public schools for in-state students, with some overlap — UNC Chapel Hill, for example, ranked as the best-value college for both in- and out-of-state students.

We also included the median earnings of students at each school 10 years after starting their studies, from the US Department of Education's College Scorecard:

20. University of Washington

Curtis Cronn / Flickr

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $46,659

Total annual cost (in-state): $24,355

Average debt at graduation: $21,532

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$52,100

*UW ranked number nine for in-state students.


19. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Via Flickr

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $27,789

Total annual cost (in-state): $15,265

Average debt at graduation: $20,944

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$52,800

*New Mexico Tech ranked number 21 for in-state students.


18. University of Georgia

University of Georgia Facebook

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $40,122

Total annual cost (in-state): $21,912

Average debt at graduation: $21,638

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$46,500

*UGA ranked number 12 for in-state students.


17. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Flickr/VSmithUK

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $42,996

Total annual cost (in-state): $27,836

Average debt at graduation: $23,808

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$56,600

* U of I ranked number 26 for in-state students.


16. SUNY at Binghamton


Wikimedia Commons

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $36,371

Total annual cost (in-state): $23,251

Average debt at graduation: $25,727

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$58,400

*Binghamton University ranked number 26 for in-state students.


15. Florida State University

Flickr/ukine

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $32,737

Total annual cost (in-state): $17,571

Average debt at graduation: $24,347

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$44,000

*FSU ranked number 16 for in-state students.


14. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Wikimedia Commons

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $54,078

Total annual cost (in-state): $25,458

Average debt at graduation: $26,510

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$57,900

*University of Michigan ranked number five for in-state students.


13. SUNY College at Geneseo

Via Wikimedia Commons

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $30,943

Total annual cost (in-state): $21,093

Average debt at graduation: $23,308

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$46,700

*SUNY Geneseo ranked number 37 for in-state students.


12. Ohio State University


Wikimedia Commons

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $40,279

Total annual cost (in-state): $22,951

Average debt at graduation: $26,830

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$42,600

*OSU ranked number 17 for in-state students.


11. University of Maryland-College Park

Wikimedia Commons

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $43,246

Total annual cost (in-state): $22,098

Average debt at graduation: $25,131

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$59,100

*The University of Maryland ranked number seven for in-state students.


10. University of California-Los Angeles

Via Flickr

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $53,974

Total annual cost (in-state): $29,266

Average debt at graduation: $20,759

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$59,200

*UCLA ranked number six for in-state students.


9. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Wikimedia Commons

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $36,319

Total annual cost (in-state): $19,968

Average debt at graduation: $20,482

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$47,500

*NC State ranked number 11 for in-state students.


8. University of Wisconsin–Madison

Flickr/Richard Hurd

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $39,669

Total annual cost (in-state): $20,419

Average debt at graduation: $26,579

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$51,000

*University of Wisconsin also ranked number eight for in-state students.


7. College of William and Mary

Michele/Flickr

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $53,350

Total annual cost (in-state): $31,650

Average debt at graduation: $25,733

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$56,400

*William and Mary ranked number 10 for in-state students.


6. University of California-Berkeley

Via Flickr

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $54,801

Total annual cost (in-state): $30,093

Average debt at graduation: $17,584

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$62,700

*UC Berkeley ranked number four for in-state students.


5. Truman State University

Via Wikimedia Commons

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $23,475

Total annual cost (in-state): $16,936

Average debt at graduation: $23,585

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$42,700

*Truman State ranked number 15 for in-state students.


4. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Michael Hicks/flickr

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $32,524

Total annual cost (in-state): $24,104

Average debt at graduation: $26,796

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$47,800

*University of Minnesota ranked number 25 for in-state students.


3. University of Florida

Wikimedia Commons

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $39,609

Total annual cost (in-state): $17,331

Average debt at graduation: $20,642

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$51,300

*University of Florida ranked number two for in-state students.


2. University of Virginia

Shutterstock

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $55,644

Total annual cost (in-state): $26,348

Average debt at graduation: $22,933

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$58,600

*UVA ranked number three for in-state students.


1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Shutterstock

Total annual cost (out-of-state): $46,017

Total annual cost (in-state): $20,935

Average debt at graduation: $18,945

Median earnings 10 years after enrolling:$50,400

*UNC Chapel Hill also ranked number one for in-state students.


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The 20 US public colleges that offer the best value for your money

#10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Founded in 1861 and now one of the nation’s premier technological institutions, MIT is the No. 10 college on FORBES' rankings list this year. MIT’s academic community includes 80 Nobel laureates, 56 National Medal of Science winners, 43 MacArthur Fellows, and 28 National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners. Located in Cambridge, MA, MIT is part of a vibrant intellectual community that includes cross-registration partners Harvard University and Wellesley College. Home to the acclaimed MIT Media Lab, the school excels in the art, science, and business of innovation. According to the National Science Foundation, MIT ranks first in industry-financed research and development expenditures among all universities and colleges without a medical school. About 56% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging about $36,000. Though best known for its excellence in STEM fields, the university also has noteworthy fiction and poetry programs. The school is often referenced in popular media such as “Good Will Hunting” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Notable alumni include the billionaire Koch brothers, American economist Lawrence Summers, and Khan Academy founder Salman Khan.

(Photo by Songquan Deng, Getty)

#9. Amherst College

Ranked at No. 9 this year, Amherst College is one of the top small private liberal arts schools in the country and one of the few need-blind institutions. About 57% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging nearly $43,000. Since Amherst belongs to the Five College Consortium, students can attend free classes at Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts. Amherst offers bachelor’s degrees in 38 fields of study, and many students work one-on-one with renowned faculty members who have received awards from National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. The college boasts one of the oldest intercollegiate athletics programs in the nation, with 27 NCAA Division III varsity teams known as Lord Jeffs. Students can select from over 100 different clubs and groups, including Croquet Club and a Much Ado About Knitting group. The 1,000-acre campus is home to the Wildlife Sanctuary, the Book & Plow Farm and four museums. Students take advantage of the snowy Massachusetts winters by grabbing dining trays and sledding down Memorial Hill.

(Photo by Raymond Forbes, Getty)

#8. Brown University

Ranked at No. 8 this year, Brown University has the reputation as the most eccentric and liberal of the Ivies. Brown offers an open curriculum in over 40 academic departments, imposing no core requirements and allowing students to “concentrate” rather than “major” in their preferred areas of study. About 47% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging about $36,000. Established in 1764, Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the U.S., celebrating its 250th anniversary in the previous academic year.

(Photo via Getty Images)

#7. Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College, ranked at No. 7 this year, is a private liberal arts school in Swarthmore, PA, whose students are known for their academic intensity. Founded in 1864, the college is located just 11 miles outside Philadelphia. Students can choose from more than 40 courses of study. First-year seminars are capped at just 12 students. Swarthmore is a member of the Tri-College Consortium with Bryn Mawr and Haverford, and students can cross-register for courses at the nearby University of Pennsylvania. About 49% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging about $36,000. Those looking to get involved outside of the classroom and laboratory can participate more than 100 student clubs and organizations. Around 93% of students live on the 425-acre campus, which is home to the 300-acre Scott Arboretum full of trees and perennials. Swarthmore is the third-highest producer of Ph.D. students in the country, with nearly 20% of students entering doctoral programs after graduation.

(Photo by Aimin Tang, Getty)

#6. Harvard University

Founded in 1636 and now ranked No. 6, Harvard University was the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. Its history, influence and wealth haven’t stopped it from experimenting with new educational models in experiential learning and online platforms, such as edX, co-founded in 2012 with nearby MIT. Harvard alumni include 47 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners. Scores of prominent people in business, the arts, politics and more have studied and taught at the university, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., NBA star Jeremy Lin, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and actress Natalie Portman, who delivered the 2015 Class Day address. FORBES' No. 46 Power Woman Drew Gilpin Faust currently serves as the university’s president. Harvard boasts the largest university endowment in the U.S. at $36 billion and has taken a stand against fossil fuel divestment. In June 2015, Harvard received the largest gift in its history of $400 million to endow a School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The school motto is “veritas,” which is Latin for “truth.” About 58% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging about $42,000.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

#5. Yale University

Granted its charter in 1701, Yale is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the country and ranked at No. 5 in the country this year. The 1,153-acre campus in New Haven, CT, is home to 440 buildings and four museums, including the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Collection of Musical Instruments. Undergraduate students can choose from more than 2,000 courses and 81 majors. The most popular majors are economics, political science, history and psychology. The library is one of the largest in the country and houses more than 15 million volumes. Yale boasts an endowment of $19.3 billion. 51% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging nearly $43,000.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

#4. Princeton University 

Chartered in 1746, Princeton University is one of the oldest colleges in the country, and ranked No. 4 on this year's list. Nassau Hall, first among the historic buildings that adorn Princeton’s 500-acre campus in Princeton, NJ, served as the nation’s capital in 1783. Undergraduates may select from 36 academic departments. Nine current faculty members are Nobel Prize recipients. The university’s generous financial aid program provides grants and campus jobs in place of student loans. 60% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging more than $34,000. Admitted students can defer their enrollment for a year to participate in community service work abroad through the Bridge Year program. On-campus housing is guaranteed for all four years for undergraduates.

(Photo by Xiaoping Lang via Getty)

#3. Stanford University

Located in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the tech world, Stanford University is a private research university ranked at No. 3 this year. The school is known for its strength in research and successful alumni. Railroad magnate Leland Stanford founded the school in 1885. Stanford boasts more than 5,300 externally sponsored research projects with a total budget of over $1.3 billion. About 53% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging more than $39,000. The university has produced a number of leaders in government and finance, including U.S. president Herbert Hoover, four U.S. Supreme Court justices and business moguls like Steve Ballmer, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Marissa Mayer. Around 93% of students live on Stanford’s campus, which consists of around 700 major buildings across 8,180 acres.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

#2. Williams College

The No. 2 Top College, Williams College is a highly elite liberal arts school in Williams, MA whose students are known for their academic and athletic prowess. Founded in 1793 as a men’s college, it began admitting women in 1970. Williams follows a 4-1-4 annual schedule, in which students take four courses during the fall and spring semesters and one course during the winter term. While students can choose from 36 majors, they are required to take three languages and arts, three social sciences and three science and math classes. Around 96% of the student body participates in at least one of the 150 student organizations and 53% of freshmen receive school grants averaging $40,000. The 32 varsity athletic teams, nicknamed the Ephs, compete at the NCAA Division III level.

(Photo by Mira / Alamy)

#1. Pomona College

The No. 1 college in the country this year, Pomona College is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, CA, offering 47 majors and 600 classes. Established in 1887, it is the founding member of The Claremont Colleges, a consortium of neighboring schools. Students can choose from over 2,000 classes offered through the consortium. Around 80% of students have taken a class at another Claremont school. 57% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging nearly $40,000. Nearly all students live on campus.

(Photo by John Crowe / Alamy)

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