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Best Value Colleges for 2010

Best Value Colleges for 2010

USA Today © 2010 YellowBrix, Inc.

March 31, 2010

Grants rise along with tuition

Prices have increased dramatically in the past 10 years, show data from the non-profit College Board, which tracks college costs. Tuition, fees, and room and board at four-year public schools jumped 46%, from an average of $10,440 in 1999-2000 to $15,210 last year, when adjusting for inflation. For private four-year schools, costs rose 28% in that period, from an average of $27,740 to $35,640.

But Best Value Colleges provided on average $875 more in grant money per student this year, even as their tuitions rose. Nine schools don’t charge tuition.

The U.S. Department of Education gave out $18.2 billion in Pell Grants for low-income students, up from $6.2 billion in the 1999-2000 school year, data show. Next year, the government plans $129 billion in grants, loans and work-study opportunities for about 14 million students.

But even though more grant aid and student loan money is available than in the past, some states are cutting need-based grants, says Sandy Baum, senior policy analyst for the College Board. At least 36 states enacted or proposed education cuts because they faced massive, “devastating” budget deficits in this recession, says a report last year by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-profit research group in Washington, D.C.

In Arizona, for example, about $232 million was trimmed from the university system in fiscal 2009 and 2010, according to the Arizona Board of Regents. But both Arizona State and the University of Arizona remained on Princeton Review’s list; Arizona universities saw a $13 million increase in state aid from 2004-05 to 2008-09, says a regents report.

Need-based aid to undergrads

At UVA, the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board was $19,112 for in-state students and $41,112 out of state.

Need-based aid to undergrads rose from $37 million in 2003-04 to $59.1 million last year, and 1,250 entering students took advantage of those funds this year, says spokeswoman Marian Anderfuren. The average undergrad got $9,673 in need-based grants and graduated with about $19,016 in debt.

“We’re looking at a pretty diverse list of schools,” Soto says. “These schools are exceptional, and they’re giving their students the aid they need.”

Next Page: Top PUBLIC Value Colleges