Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine has ranked Virginia Tech 17th among the magazine's 2008 list of the top 100 public colleges and universities that offer "academic excellence at an affordable price."

Virginia Tech is slowly but surely advancing in Kiplinger’s top 100 best values list, moving up from a ranking of 20th in 2006 and 18th in 2007.

The magazine used a number of criteria in selecting and ranking the top 100 from among the more than 500 public colleges and universities in the United States. Most of the data was supplied by Peterson’s, a Nelnet educational services company. The list was published in the February issue of Kiplinger’s, on newsstands now.

“We were looking for schools that were academically strong as well as affordable, so in our scoring, academic quality carries more weight than costs (almost two-thirds of the total),” wrote Kiplinger’s associate editor Jane Bennett Clark.

Kiplinger’s narrowed its list to about 120 schools based on measures of academic quality, including SAT scores, admission rates, freshman retention rates, student/faculty ratios, and graduation rates. The magazine then ranked the remaining schools on a series of cost and financial aid comparisons, as well as average student debt at graduation.

The average total cost for in-state students at public colleges during the 2007-2008 academic year is $13,589 and the cost for out-of-state students is just over $24,000, according to the College Board.

Total costs for in-state students at Virginia Tech this year, according to the university’s Office of Budget and Financial Planning, range from $12,329 to $15,063 (depending on place of residence and type of meal plan). Total out-of-state costs range from $24,707 to $27,441.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has placed first on the top 100 list every year since Kiplinger’s initiated the rankings in 1998.

The University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary placed third and fourth, respectively, on this year’s list. Other Virginia schools that made the top 100 are the University of Mary Washington (14th), James Madison University (22nd), George Mason University (77th), and Longwood University (91st). Virginia Tech and Mary Washington are close competitors in offering the lowest total costs for Virginia residents.

“Despite rising tuition costs, there are still many first-rate institutions providing outstanding academics at an affordable price,” said Kiplinger’s editor, Fred Frailey. “Schools like these prove graduates can enter the workforce with a great education—and without a huge cloud of debt looming.”

According to the magazine’s survey, at Virginia Tech an average of 68 percent of total costs for the 2007 graduating class were met by some type of financial aid, and the average student debt (combining in-state and out-of state data) at the time of graduation was $19,807.

More information about Kiplinger’s top 100 best values rankings may be found online.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, Southside, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.


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