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Best public colleges in every state

  • Best public colleges in every state

    Public colleges and universities come with far less sticker shock than their private sector counterparts, but that isn't to say they offer a substandard education or even diminished cache. Recent coverage of the breaking college admission scandal has exposed the underhanded—and illegal—lengths some affluent parents will employ to ensure their child's admission not just to the Ivy League, but also top-tier public schools, including UCLA, Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.

    Using the most recent data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, as well as feedback from millions of current students and alumni, Niche ranked over 500 public colleges and universities based on academic programs, student life, affordability, and admission statistics. Stacker, extrapolating from Niche's findings, has compiled a list of the top public universities in every state.

    The vast majority of the schools that made the cut were created or repurposed as a result of the Morrill Land Grant Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. The Morrill Act gifted 30,000 acres of public land to every state, with the caveat that it would be sold and the profits used to create and sustain agricultural and engineering colleges. Many of these new institutions had fewer than a dozen students and struggled to survive, in some instances battling the landscape as well as enrollment challenges. Today, a handful of land-grant schools continue to specialize in agriculture, science, and engineering, although most have grown exponentially over the years and currently offer programs in an array of disciplines, including business, medicine, law, and the humanities. With access to multi-million dollar budgets and state-of-the-art facilities, public universities are frequently at the forefront of some of the most innovative and life-changing research in science and technology.

    Click through the list to see which school took top honors in your home state, as well as which one took the number one spot on the 2019 list of America's Best Public Colleges.

    You might also like: Best private colleges in every state


  • Alabama: Auburn University

    - Location: Auburn, AL
    - In-state tuition: $10,968
    - Out-of-state tuition: $29,640
    - Acceptance rate: 84%
    - Applicants: 18,072
    - SAT scores: 1130-1310
    - ACT scores: 24-30
    - Student faculty ratio: 19:1

    Famous for its football team as well as its southern charm, Auburn began life as East Alabama Male College in 1856. Just a few years later, students were forced to abandon their studies while the college waited out the Civil War. Women were admitted at the end of the 19th century, and in 1960 the school's name was officially changed to Auburn University. The first college in the U.S. to pioneer a wireless engineering program, Auburn's notable alumni include astronaut Kathryn Thornton—the second American woman to walk in space.

  • Alaska: University of Alaska Southeast

    - Location: Juneau, AK
    - In-state tuition: $6,828
    - Out-of-state tuition: $19,533
    - Acceptance rate: 71%
    - Applicants: 449
    - SAT scores: data not available
    - ACT scores: data not available
    - Student faculty ratio: 10:1

    The University of Alaska Southeast enjoys a spectacular setting along the Tongass National Forest and the Juneau Icefield—an ideal location for it's highly rated marine science program. With fewer than 650 students and enviably small classes, UAS delivers a first-class education with a small college vibe.

  • Arizona: Arizona State University

    - Location: Tempe, AZ
    - In-state tuition: $10,552
    - Out-of-state tuition: $28,336
    - Acceptance rate: 84%
    - Applicants: 24,127
    - SAT scores: 1120-1350
    - ACT scores: 22-29
    - Student faculty ratio: 20:1

    As if plenty of sunshine and a campus with a decidedly southwestern flavor wasn't enough to recommend it, Arizona State University is also a top breeding ground for Fulbright scholars. In 2018 “U.S. News & World Report” recognized Arizona State as the nation's most innovative university, thanks in part to its prestigious NASA Space Grant Program, which enables student to participate in NASA-related research.

  • Arkansas: University of Arkansas

    - Location: Fayetteville, AR
    - In-state tuition: $9,062
    - Out-of-state tuition: $24,308
    - Acceptance rate: 66%
    - Applicants: 21,715
    - SAT scores: 1110-1280
    - ACT scores: 23-29
    - Student faculty ratio: 18:1

    The University of Arkansas, nestled in the magnificent Ozark Mountains, is one of the leading research institutions in the United States. In the mid-1970s, newlyweds Bill and Hillary Clinton joined the school's law school faculty before launching their political careers. Sen. J. William Fulbright, a UA alumnus and former university president, sponsored a bill in 1945 that was to become the vaunted international exchange program bearing his name.

  • California: University of California - Los Angeles

    - Location: Los Angeles, CA
    - In-state tuition: $13,261
    - Out-of-state tuition: $41,275
    - Acceptance rate: 16%
    - Applicants: 102,225
    - SAT scores: 1220-1450
    - ACT scores: 29-34
    - Student faculty ratio: 18:1

    Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, UCLA will celebrate its centennial this coming May. The upcoming anniversary has helped catapult the school to the #1 spot with respect to philanthropic funds raised by a public university during the 2017–18 fiscal year, bringing in a record breaking $786,650,878. UCLA boasts a star-studded roster of alumni including basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, actor James Franco, and director Francis Ford Coppola. The student films of '60s music legend Jim Morrison and fellow Doors band member Ray Manzarek are currently being restored by the university's Film and Television Archive.

  • Colorado: Colorado School of Mines

    - Location: Golden, CO
    - In-state tuition: $18,386
    - Out-of-state tuition: $37,436
    - Acceptance rate: 56%
    - Applicants: 10,618
    - SAT scores: 1310-1450
    - ACT scores: 28-32
    - Student faculty ratio: 16:1

    The Colorado School of Mines is noted for its exceptional science and engineering programs as well as its proximity to a several major ski destinations. Graduates can take advantage of combined bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs, and are in high demand by employers. Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks Mines as one of it's top 100 educational values.

  • Connecticut: University of Connecticut

    - Location: Storrs, CT
    - In-state tuition: $14,880
    - Out-of-state tuition: $36,948
    - Acceptance rate: 48%
    - Applicants: 34,198
    - SAT scores: 1210-1390
    - ACT scores: 26-31
    - Student faculty ratio: 16:1

    In 1880, Charles and Augustus Storrs founded Storrs Agricultural College with a donation of 170 acres of farmland, a former orphanage, and $6,000 to the state of Connecticut. In 1933, the school awarded its first bachelor of arts degree and was christened the University of Connecticut in 1939. In addition to it's top-notch academics, UConn is also an athletic powerhouse, with both its men's and women's basketball teams winning numerous national titles. Notable alumni include musician Moby, actress Meg Ryan, ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo, and authors Wally Lamb and Ann Beattie.

  • Delaware: University of Delaware

    - Location: Newark, DE
    - In-state tuition: $13,160
    - Out-of-state tuition: $33,150
    - Acceptance rate: 63%
    - Applicants: 27,803
    - SAT scores: 1130-1330
    - ACT scores: 25-29
    - Student faculty ratio: 15:1

    Founded in 1743 as Newark College in New London, Penn., the school's first graduating class included some of its most illustrious alumni, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence. In 1765, the school relocated to its current home in Newark, Delaware, and became the University of Delaware in 1921, when it merged with a neighboring women's college. Today, over 4,500 students are actively engaged in research at the university's 75 research centers and institutes. UD counts former vice president and potential presidential candidate Joe Biden among its graduates.

  • Florida: University of Florida

    - Location: Gainesville, FL
    - In-state tuition: $6,381
    - Out-of-state tuition: $28,659
    - Acceptance rate: 42%
    - Applicants: 32,747
    - SAT scores: 1240-1400
    - ACT scores: 28-32
    - Student faculty ratio: 19:1

    The University of Florida began life in the mid-19th century, with the merger of the Gainesville Academy and the East Florida Seminary. In 1928, UF pioneered an innovative athletic scholarship that continues to serve as the model for the NCAA. Currently, “U.S. New & World Report” ranks 29 University of Florida graduate programs—including law, engineering, and business—in the top 30 nationally within their disciplines. Notable alumni include NFL star Tim Tebow, Olympian Ryan Lochte, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

  • Georgia: Georgia Institute of Technology

    - Location: Atlanta, GA
    - In-state tuition: $12,418
    - Out-of-state tuition: $33,014
    - Acceptance rate: 23%
    - Applicants: 31,497
    - SAT scores: 1090-1520
    - ACT scores: 30-34
    - Student faculty ratio: 22:1

    Georgia Tech began life as a trade school in 1885, transforming into a full-fledged university in the following decades. In 1952, the school was officially christened the Georgia Institute of Technology with a focus on the sciences and engineering. Today, Georgia Tech offers 130 majors and minors in disciplines ranging from engineering and design to liberal arts. Georgia Tech ranks #6 on Niche's 2019 list. Graduates of Georgia Tech include President Jimmy Carter and comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

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