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Top Private Colleges: Get the Best Value for Your Money

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Paying for a quality college education is a top priority for many students and their families, especially since most families’ salaries aren’t increasing as quickly as the price of college tuition. According to the College Board, the average cost of one year at a private four-year college is roughly $36,000. One decade ago, that yearly figure was approximately $21,000.

Don’t Let Sticker Shock Get in the Way of Education

The financial advice experts at Kiplinger’s claim that a school’s net average price— the amount that families actually pay after financial aid is applied— is what’s really important. The sticker price of a college or university’s tuition isn’t necessarily what you’ll need to pay out of pocket to attend the school.

Kiplinger’s has examined the nation’s private colleges and universities, factoring admission rates, student-faculty ratios, on-time graduation rate, sticker price and financial aid to come up with the 2010-11 edition of Kiplinger’s Best Values in Private Colleges, which was released online this week.

Describing the list as “the top schools that provide high-quality education at an affordable price,” Kiplinger’s ranking systems “measure academic quality and affordability, with quality accounting for two-thirds of the total.”

Two hundred schools are separated into the top 100 private universities and the top 100 liberal arts colleges. You can learn more about Kiplinger’s Best Values in Private Colleges below.

Kiplinger’s Top 10 Best Values in Private Universities, 2010-11

1. Princeton, Princeton, NJ

Total cost per year: $49,055

Average need-based aid: $33,428

No non-need based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $4,957

2. Yale, New Haven, CT

Total cost per year: $50,800

Average need-based aid: $37,639

Average non-need-based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $10,717

3. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Total cost per year: $49,002

Average need-based aid: $30,069

Average non-need based aid: $34,967

Average student debt at graduation: $8,218

4. Rice, Houston, TX

Total cost per year: $46,321

Average need-based aid: $24,104

Average non-need based aid: $14,665

Average student debt at graduation: $16,716

5. Duke, Durham, NC

Total cost per year: $53,157

Average need-based aid: $33,810

Average non-need based aid: $23,185

Average student debt at graduation: $23,059

6. Harvard, Cambridge, MA

Total cost per year: $53,227

Average need-based aid: $37,620

No non-need based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $10,871

7. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Total cost per year: $53,064

Average need-based aid: $30,043

No non-need based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $17,787

8. Columbia, New York, NY

Total cost per year: $57,192

Average need-based aid: $35,705

No non-need based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $11,564

9. Brown, Providence, RI

Total cost per year: $52,670

Average need-based aid: $31,474

Average non-need based aid: $14,000

Average student debt at graduation: $21,858

10. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Total cost per year: $54,175

Average need-based aid: $35,209

Average non-need based aid: $450

Average student debt at graduation: $19,081

Kiplinger’s Top 10 Best Values in Liberal Arts Colleges, 2010-11

1. Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

Total cost per year: $52,650

Average need-based aid: $33,859

Average non-need based aid: $37,510

Average student debt at graduation: $15,737

2. Pomona College, Claremont, CA

Total cost per year: $52,723

Average need-based aid: $34,461

No non-need-based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $11,700

3. Williams College, Williamstown, MA

Total cost per year: $53,140

Average need-based aid: $34,269

No non-need based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $7,960

4. Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA

Total cost per year: $52,330

Average need-based aid: $31,111

Average non-need based aid: $27,499

Average student debt at graduation: $23,615

5. Davidson College, Davidson, NC

Total cost per year: $48,029

Average need-based aid: $21,962

Average non-need based aid: $17,182

Average student debt at graduation: $20,858

6. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

Total cost per year: $53,680

Average need-based aid: $33,832

Average non-need based aid: $1,000

Average student debt at graduation: $18,382

7. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA

Total cost per year: $53,625

Average need-based aid: $34,276

Average non-need based aid: 12,591

Average student debt at graduation: $9,259

8. Amherst College, Amherst, MA

Total cost per year: $52,522

Average need-based aid: $39,451

No non-need based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $11,347

9. Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

Total cost per year: $53,060

Average need-based aid: $35,502

Average non-need based aid: 22,205

Average student debt at graduation: $19,466

10. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

Total cost per year: $53,950

Average need-based aid: $33,155

No non-need based aid given

Average student debt at graduation: $18,876

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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