Ed’s ‘Best Buy’ Public Colleges and Universities

As last week drew to a close I decided to do some research to find out: What public colleges and universities are truly ‘best buys’?

I used these criteria to focus on value and quality to develop a list of Best Buy public colleges and universities, using data that any parent of a college-bound student can find online for nothing.

  • Freshman retention rate of 85 percent or better
  • Six-year graduate rate of 65 percent or better
  • In-state tuition and fees of less than $10,000
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees of less than $25,000
  • Student indebtedness of less than $27,000, the maximum one can borrow under the Federal Stafford loan program.

The list of public colleges and universities that I was able to build included three of my ‘Public Ivies.”

  • Binghamton University (NY)
  • James Madison University (VA)
  • SUNY-Geneseo (NY)

I’ll be watching these Best Buys to see if they might become Public Ivies. Their freshman retention rates are rising quite close to, or have surpassed, 90 percent. Their six-year graduation rates have moved past 70 percent as well.

  • Florida State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • SUNY-University at Buffalo

And these are the rest of the Best Buy schools:

  • Appalachian State University (NC)
  • Illinois State University
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • SUNY-Stony Brook University
  • SUNY-University at Albany
  • Truman State University (MO)
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Mary Washington (VA)
  • University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse
  • University of North Carolina-Wilmington
  • Towson University (MD)

Keep in mind that I have not assessed the campus life or the academic experience at all of these public colleges and universities. I have personally visited five of these public colleges and universities: Binghamton, Geneseo, James Madison, Mary Washington and Towson. I would be delighted to share my opinions about them. I hope to visit the remaining schools in New York State before the year is out.

I will update this list of public colleges and universities in the fall after the schools release new data. However, this should help to get any family off to a start if they are planning college visits during the summer or fall.