Best Bang For Your Buck

Schools where you get the best education for the lowest price

By Explore Editor

Brigham Young University

If BYU is known for one thing, it's the school's affiliation with Mormonism. The influence of Mormon culture on the school is impossible to avoid, but considering that 98% of the student body has ties to the LDS Church, this is generally seen as a positive thing. According to Emily, a sophomore at BYU, "The best thing about BYU is that we're allowed to discuss our religion in class where it is relevant. There are lots of good things about being sponsored by our church-- tuition is cheap, and our church leaders come to campus a lot." Students here seem unanimous about their praise for the school. "It's a fantastic school for the price. Very inexpensive for the education offered," says Josh, a communications major.


College of William and Mary

Students looking for an affordable liberal arts education at a school that's going to stand out on a job resume should take note of the College of William and Mary. Matt, an economics major, offers this rundown: "Academics at W&M are top of the line. Competition is fierce, and stress is usually high. Virtually none of the classes are taught by TA's, and professors are usually very accessible. Furthermore, all of the professors are engaging and love their fields. There is ample opportunity for undergraduate research, simply go to your department Head." Irene, a junior international relations student, also praises the school's academics: "As a liberal arts school, the education you will get here is very comprehensive and more for the sake of learning than job training, although William & Mary's students have a very high success rate of finding jobs and grad school admission."


North Carolina State University

Despite a lack of widespread recognition, students at North Carolina State seem to really like it there. Says one junior, "NCSU is by far the best school in the country. There are many students here but you would never know it. Everyone is extremely friendly and everyone has a lot of school spirit." Tuition at NCSU is affordable, even for out-of-state students, and the education offered is challenging and beneficial. Hannah, a freshman, says, "The education at State is really dedicated to teaching you information that you can take with you throughout your life, and are geared towards setting career goals for yourself, to improve your future."


SUNY at Binghamton

SUNY Binghamton is often considered the "Ivy" of the SUNY system, and is widely known throughout New York as one of the best and most affordable universities in the state. "At Binghamton you'll get a great education if you make the most of what the school has to offer. That's the same with any school, but Binghamton comes with a lower price tag," claims Charlie, an English major. Nicole, a biology student, has this to say: "Binghamton is definitely known for its academics. The science departments are very prestigious. The high academic expectations translate into the students' out-of-school life through sharing the knowledge they learn. I can honestly say I never go a day without hearing something new and interesting from other students. The students are competitive and generally strive to do well."


University of California-Irvine

"The academics at UCI could not be better! We are the number 13th research university and if you look into some departments we are in the top 5 if not number 1! Professors are incredibly easy to seek out, in fact I am currently overwhelmed because I have too many collaboration projects with professors and recently I have gotten to CHOOSE between which WORLD RENOWNED professors I am going to work with," raves Troy, a junior. UC Irvine is often overshadowed by some of the other state schools in California, but in recent years, the school's reputation and academic offerings has increased dramatically to make it one of the state's best places to study. "The best thing about UCI is that it is always becoming better. It seems that the school's academic reputation is continually increasing as well. The campus could quite possibly be one of the best out of all the UCs -- it is very well organized and has tons of plants. The atmosphere is very calming. There are many good facilities for students to use."


University of Delaware

UD is one of the best and most competitive public universities for out-of-state students. So for prospective students that actually call Delaware home (What's that like?), UD offers a top tier education with a very affordable price tag. With an undergraduate population of roughly 13,000, UD offers the perks of a large state university without being too overwhelming in size. "I came here essentially not knowing anyone but by the end of the first week i met a whole different array of people and met some of my closest friends since I've been here. I like the atmosphere that surrounds UD the most, I love how cleanly and modern the campus is and it just personifies a welcoming aura," says Doug, an engineering freshman. Caitlin, another freshman has this to say regarding the "best things" about UD: "great all-around college. Great campus/town, likeable students, great education for a good value, there are things to do and get involved in."


University of Maryland

Though students sometimes complain that the university's home of College Park is unsafe, they speak very highly of the academics and research opportunities available. One senior says, "Academics at UMD are good. The diploma you will walk away with four years from now will be more valuable than one 4 years earlier. The caliber of students, faculty and programs on campus continues to improve. Recently, UMD has been a hot school and admission standards have become more intense. This campus has a lot of talent and is a great place to get your undergraduate degree." Lee, a Bio major, discusses the perks of being at a large university: "It's a big school, but with a big school comes many, many opportunities. From clubs to fun activities to research, there is always something great you can find out about UMD."


University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh is known for its focus on research, as well as the Cathedral of Learning, one of Pittsburgh's most recognizable landmarks, and often used as a "drunken compass" to guide students back home after a night out. Students at Pitt often cite free benefits offered by the school as one of the best perks. " all times, you are within a 20 minute bus ride from downtown. Bus fare is included in tuition, so students essentially ride the buses for 'free.' It was nice to be able to go to the symphony, ballet, or a play as a student," says Lexi, a philosophy student. Julia, a sophomore, explains a few of the things that she loves about Pitt: "It's not a traditional campus, but it's made up of modern and Neo-Gothic architecture surrounded by parks, green space, statues and hills...Free bus passes, museum access and student discounts make for great excursions. People are very involved on campus and serious about the many, many clubs here."


University of Virginia

UVA is one of the most highly respected state universities in the country, and with rigorous academics, a beautiful campus, and an exciting sports scene, prospective students will have trouble finding a better place to spend their four(ish) years of college. MJ, a sophomore bio major says, "UVA is pretty excellent. The social scene is wild enough, academically it is tough, and financially it is reasonable. It is just the right size, and students who go here are proud of it." A junior neuroscience student explains some other highlights: "Faculty and administrators love the students as there is probably one student on every major University committee, even our Board of Visitors (aka Board of Trustees). The diversity of the students from all walks of life and from all over the country and world make this place a truly exciting place to learn."


University of Washington

Students at UW (or U-dub as the kids like to say) rave about the school's academics and affordability. "You get a good education for very cheap, go here if you want to get a decent degree and not go too far in debt," says one student. You don't have to pay $40k for a degree in order to land a good job after graduation, and UW students know that. John, a senior English major explains: "Some might say that the school is too large, but I've never had a problem with class sizes or advisors being unavailable. There are so many resources at the school and there aren't really too many people helping you out to find them, but if you sit down with an advisor, you'll probably be blown away by how much you didn't know was available to you."


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