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Best value big colleges in America

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Best value big colleges in America

Choosing the right university to attend is a tough decision. College educates us not only academically, but also socially, and where a person spends those four crucial years can impact their future trajectory in life. From choosing the right major to choosing a city to live in to the general culture of a campus, there’s a lot to consider.

However, it’s no secret that college is a hefty financial investment, and it’s important to assess which university will provide the best value for each student’s needs. If it’s the major that’s important, choosing a school that’s specialized gains priority. If it’s all about budget, there are many schools that offer academic competitiveness for a lower price tag. For those looking to come out on top of a competitive job market, a top-ranking school may be a better bet. Whatever the priorities lie, there’s a school out there that provides the value.

To help in this quest, Stacker compiled a ranking of the 50 best value big colleges using data from Niche’s 2020 Best Value Colleges in America list. The 2020 Best Value Colleges ranking is based on net price, alumni earnings, graduation rates, and student debt using data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni.

Only four-year colleges with 10,000 or more undergraduate students were considered for this list, and they are sorted by their original rank on Niche’s list. The net price, median earnings six years after graduation, acceptance rate, and student-faculty ratio for the schools are included as well. A detailed breakdown of Niche’s methodology is available here. Click through the slideshow to find the big colleges that provide the best value.

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Stan9999 // Wikimedia Commons

#50. University of Texas at Dallas

- Location: Richardson, TX
- Number of undergraduates: 15,294
- Net price: $10,036
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,100
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Student-faculty ratio: 24:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #215

Founded in 1969, the University of Texas at Dallas is a public university in Richardson with a moderately competitive acceptance rate of 76%. At a net price of about $10,000, this university is a steal comparatively. The university’s most popular majors center on engineering, science, and finance.

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#49. Drexel University

- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Number of undergraduates: 13,572
- Net price: $40,977
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $68,800
- Acceptance rate: 79%
- Student-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #211

In the vibrant city of Philadelphia, Drexel University is a private university with an acceptance rate of 79%. With the student to faculty ratio of 11 to one, Drexel ensures that every student gets the attention that they need to succeed. Popular majors include nursing, mechanical engineering, and finance.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#48. University of Massachusetts Lowell

- Location: Lowell, MA
- Number of undergraduates: 10,495
- Net price: $18,375
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,300
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Student-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #208

Ranked the number two public university in Massachusetts by Niche, UMass Lowell is located in, you guessed it, Lowell, Mass., in the greater Boston area. Acceptance rates are on the moderately competitive side, accepting about 69% of applicants. Some of the most popular majors include business, criminal justice and law enforcement administration, and information science.

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IT Communications Office // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Indiana University Bloomington

- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Number of undergraduates: 32,212
- Net price: $12,488
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,700
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Student-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #199

Indiana University Bloomington has also been named the #2 public university in its state by Niche, with the bargain price tag of $12,488. This university also boasts a low student to faculty ratio of 17 students to 1 faculty member. IU - Bloomington offers over 750 student organizations, over 25 learning communities, and more than 130 cultural organizations, to ensure that every student will find people who share their specific interests.

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Davidhar // Wikimedia Commons

#46. State University of New York at Buffalo

- Location: Buffalo, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 19,401
- Net price: $16,120
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,600
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Student-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #197

This highly rated public university has a large college feel with an enrollment of 19,401 undergraduates. SUNY Buffalo is somewhat competitive with a 57% acceptance rate. Despite its high enrollment, the school maintains a low student to faculty ratio of 13 students to one faculty member. Popular majors here are business, psychology, and social science research methods.

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Yisong Yue // Flickr

#45. University of Pittsburgh

- Location: Pittsburgh, PA
- Number of undergraduates: 18,390
- Net price: $22,848
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,900
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Student-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #192

Also referred to as Pitt, the University of Pittsburgh has the advantage of being located in a burgeoning art-centered city that is filled with creative coffee shops, art museums, and a young population. While the acceptance rate for undergraduates is fairly competitive at 60%, the graduation rate is very high at 82%—a testament to the quality of education. Popular majors at Pitt include psychology, liberal arts and humanities, and finance.

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#44. New York University

- Location: New York, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 25,347
- Net price: $36,256
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,900
- Acceptance rate: 28%
- Student-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #185

NYU is located in the heart of New York City and prides itself on its urban, non-traditional campus. This private university is known for its long roster of celebrity alumni including Alec Baldwin, Martin Scorsese, Lady Gaga, and the Olsen twins. However, NYU isn’t the easiest to get into, with an acceptance rate of 28% of applicants. However, the price of attendance can also be a deterrent for some at $36,256.

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Mark Kim/yusunkwon // Wikimedia Commons

#43. State University of New York at Stony Brook

- Location: Stony Brook, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 16,212
- Net price: $14,330
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,600
- Acceptance rate: 42%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #183

This highly rated public university is located in Brookhaven in the New York City area. Getting in is somewhat competitive with a 42% acceptance rate. However, Stony Brook boasts a high graduation rate of 72% and a reasonable net price of $14,330. Popular majors center on health studies and the sciences.

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Nicolas Tan/Creative Services/George Mason University // Wikimedia Commons

#42. George Mason University

- Location: Fairfax, VA
- Number of undergraduates: 20,221
- Net price: $18,629
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,900
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #178

This public university is ranked number six in Niche’s ranking of the top public universities in Virginia. With a high acceptance rate of 81%, George Mason University is not quite as competitive to get into, but still ensures a quality education, with graduates earning a starting salary of $44,900. Popular majors here are psychology, police and criminal science, and information technology.

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Steven Liveoak // Shutterstock

#41. Auburn University

- Location: Auburn, AL
- Number of undergraduates: 21,762
- Net price: $22,613
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,800
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #176

This public university in Alabama is highly rated and has a large enrollment of 21,762. Auburn University is a large Southern college that specializes in biomedical sciences and molecular medicine, business, and accounting. With a net price of $22,613, Auburn isn’t the most affordable on the list, but it offers a high graduation rate of 77%.

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#40. George Washington University

- Location: Washington, DC
- Number of undergraduates: 10,893
- Net price: $37,638
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $69,600
- Acceptance rate: 41%
- Student-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #171

This private university is situated in the heart of Washington D.C. and has a somewhat competitive acceptance rate of 41%. Though this is one of the pricier universities on the list, with a net price of $37,638, the payoff is that the median salary of graduates six years after graduation is $69,600. Popular majors at George Washington include medical laboratory technician, international relations, and political science and government.

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Tony Webster // Flickr

#39. University of Iowa

- Location: Iowa City, IA
- Number of undergraduates: 21,222
- Net price: $14,845
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,900
- Acceptance rate: 86%
- Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #169

One of the nation’s premiere research universities, University of Iowa is located in Iowa City and has a large college feel, with an enrollment of 21,222. The University of Iowa is known for its state-of-the-art medical centers and its world-renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop. It offers over 200 majors, minors, and certificates, so every student is sure to find a path that suits them.

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#38. Iowa State University

- Location: Ames, IA
- Number of undergraduates: 28,743
- Net price: $13,949
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,700
- Acceptance rate: 89%
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #160

Another Iowa university, Iowa State University is Niche’s number two best value college in the state. This public university has a fairly lenient acceptance rate of 89% and graduates 73% of its undergraduate students. With a net price of $13,949, Iowa State is a great value, especially because graduates earn an average starting salary of $41,200.

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Jeffness // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Michigan State University

- Location: East Lansing, MI
- Number of undergraduates: 35,404
- Net price: $16,684
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,600
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #155

Michigan State University has one of the most renowned research facilities in the nation. Located in East Lansing, Mich., the school is located minutes from the state’s capital. Popular majors include communications, advertising, and economics. With a net price of $16,684, this university is a great value for a quality education.

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Zeete // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Rutgers University–New Brunswick

- Location: Piscataway-New Brunswick, NJ
- Number of undergraduates: 33,677
- Net price: $16,016
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,900
- Acceptance rate: 58%
- Student-faculty ratio: 15:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #151

Offering over 100 majors, over 175 research centers, and more than 500 student organizations, Rutgers University–New Brunswick is situated close to both New York City and Philadelphia, offering proximity to an abundance of job and internship opportunities. With a somewhat competitive acceptance rate of 58%, this campus of Rutgers is quite the value with a net price of $16,016.

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Cmcnicoll // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Boston University

- Location: Boston, MA
- Number of undergraduates: 16,840
- Net price: $33,728
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $65,300
- Acceptance rate: 25%
- Student-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #150

Named Niche’s #11 on its ranking of best big colleges in America, Boston University is a private university with a highly competitive acceptance rate of 25%. It is also another of the more expensive universities on this list, with a net price of $33,728. However, BU offers many academic opportunities for its students, including 10 undergraduate schools and colleges, over 300 majors and minors, over 650 global courses, $1 million in research funding for undergraduates, and over 100 study abroad programs.

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Tdorante10 // Wikimedia Commons

#34. CUNY Baruch College

- Location: New York, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 11,598
- Net price: $4,544
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,200
- Acceptance rate: 29%
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #141

Ranking number three in Niche’s list of top public universities in New York, CUNY Baruch College is a competitive college, with an acceptance rate of 29%, for an immense value net price of $4,544. Not to mention the fact that the median earnings for graduates after six years is $57,200. Popular majors at Baruch College include finance, accounting, and merchandising and buying operations.

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Cargoudel // Wikimedia Commons

#33. University of Delaware

- Location: Newark, DE
- Number of undergraduates: 18,195
- Net price: $16,286
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,000
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Student-faculty ratio: 15:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #137

Located in Newark, Del., the University of Delaware is a fairly competitive public university with an acceptance rate of 63%. The university also ranked #33 in Niche’s list of top public universities in America. Some of its popular majors include liberal arts and humanities, finance, and marketing. With an affordable net price of $16,286 and a low student to faculty ratio of 15 students to one faculty member, it’s no question that this university is a great value.

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Ben Franske // Wikimedia Commons

#32. University of Minnesota Twin Cities

- Location: Minneapolis, MN
- Number of undergraduates: 29,991
- Net price: $16,808
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,900
- Acceptance rate: 50%
- Student-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #136

Ranking number one on Niche’s list of top public universities in Minnesota, the Twin Cities outpost of the University of Minnesota system offers a vibrant campus in the heart of Minneapolis. It’s a large college, with just under 30,000 undergraduates, so students are sure to get a big Midwestern college experience. Popular majors at Twin Cities include psychology, economics, and computer science.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#31. University of Connecticut

- Location: Storrs, CT
- Number of undergraduates: 18,555
- Net price: $18,699
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,400
- Acceptance rate: 48%
- Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #128

Known to students as UConn, the University of Connecticut has a large college feel, including a lively sports culture. Located in Storrs, Conn., this university is somewhat competitive, with an acceptance rate under 50%, and maintains a low student to faculty ratio of 16 students per faculty member. Popular majors at UConn include psychology, economics, and communications.

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#30. University of California, Santa Barbara

- Location: Santa Barbara, CA
- Number of undergraduates: 21,777
- Net price: $16,154
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,300
- Acceptance rate: 33%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #126

One of the most picturesque of the universities in the University of California system, UC Santa Barbara is a very competitive school with an acceptance rate of 33%. The majors that are the most popular center on science and research. The university has an annual net price of just over $16,000, and graduates about 81% of its students.

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#29. University of Georgia

- Location: Athens, GA
- Number of undergraduates: 27,142
- Net price: $15,934
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,500
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Student-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #125

Ranking #14 on Niche’s list of top public universities in America, the University of Georgia is located in the college town of Athens, Ga. With more than 27,000 undergraduate classmates, students can be sure to get a large Southern university experience. Popular majors include finance, psychology, and biology. With a net price just shy of $16,000, this university is quite the value considering alumni earn a salary of upwards of $50,000 after six years.

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#28. Brigham Young University

- Location: Provo, UT
- Number of undergraduates: 28,156
- Net price: $12,979
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,700
- Acceptance rate: 52%
- Student-faculty ratio: 20:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #123

This Mormon university, also referred to as BYU, offers a religious backbone as well as academics and a robust sports culture. In Provo, Utah, near Salt Lake City, the university offers proximity to job and internship opportunities in the city. Popular majors at BYU include exercise physiology, accounting, and psychology.

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Evangelos Dousmanis/Binghamton University // Wikimedia Commons

#27. State University of New York at Binghamton

- Location: Vestal, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 13,345
- Net price: $16,775
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,600
- Acceptance rate: 40%
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #122

Named #5 in Niche’s list of top public universities in New York, SUNY Binghamton is a fairly competitive college with an acceptance rate of 40%. With a net price of $16,775, this university proves to be a value when compared to the average alumni starting salary of $45,300. Popular majors at Binghamton University include economics, psychology, and accounting.

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#26. University of California, San Diego

- Location: La Jolla, CA
- Number of undergraduates: 27,880
- Net price: $14,616
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,900
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #120

In the affluent beachside town of La Jolla, Calif., the San Diego outpost of the UC system is known for its specialization in math and science subjects. However, this university isn’t all sunny skies and catching waves; it has quite a competitive acceptance rate of 34%. This public college maintains a low student to faculty ratio of 19 students per one faculty member.

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Bgervais // Wikimedia Commons

#25. University of Maryland, College Park

- Location: College Park, MD
- Number of undergraduates: 27,708
- Net price: $17,241
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $62,900
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #118

Named the #1 university in Niche’s ranking of top public universities in Maryland, the University of Maryland - College Park is conveniently located in the Washington D.C. area. With a net price of $17,241, this is a great value for the area and for a college that graduates about 85% of its students. Popular College Park majors include information science, biology, and economics.

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#24. University of California, Davis

- Location: Davis, CA
- Number of undergraduates: 29,284
- Net price: $16,446
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,200
- Acceptance rate: 43%
- Student-faculty ratio: 20:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #109

One of the University of California’s most competitive schools, UC Davis is known for its specialization in agriculture and veterinary sciences. The net price of $16,446 is fairly affordable compared to the average starting salary of alumni of $40,400. Other popular majors include research and experimental psychology, economics, and managerial economics.

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#23. Northeastern University

- Location: Boston, MA
- Number of undergraduates: 13,786
- Net price: $30,784
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $67,400
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Student-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #104

Named #8 in Niche’s ranking of the best design schools in America, Northeastern University is located in the history-rich town of Boston. Northeastern is a competitive private school, accepting only 27% of applicants. Unfortunately, it is also on the more expensive side with a net price of $30,784. However, its highly specialized majors are worth it. Popular majors at Northeastern include business, economics, and mechanical engineering.

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#22. University of California, Irvine

- Location: Irvine, CA
- Number of undergraduates: 28,855
- Net price: $13,944
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,400
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #101

While largely a commuter school, UC Irvine still has school pride for its quirky mascot: the anteater. With a somewhat competitive acceptance rate of 37%, this college specializes in its health and medicine-centered majors, including social psychology, biology, and public health.

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#21. University of Washington

- Location: Seattle, WA
- Number of undergraduates: 28,759
- Net price: $9,443
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,700
- Acceptance rate: 46%
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #99

Coming in first place on Niche’s list of the best colleges in Washington, the University of Washington is possibly the best financial value school on this list, with a net price of $9,443. While fairly competitive with an acceptance rate of 46%, the hard work pays of as graduates earn an average starting salary of $44,900. Popular majors here include psychology, communications, and biochemistry and molecular biology.

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#20. North Carolina State University

- Location: Raleigh, NC
- Number of undergraduates: 21,384
- Net price: $13,442
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,500
- Acceptance rate: 51%
- Student-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #96

The #2 public university in North Carolina per Niche, North Carolina State offers a big Southern college feel with an enrollment of 21,384 undergraduates. Popular majors at this college include business, biology, and engineering. With an alumni average starting salary of $41,200, the net price of $13,442 is quite a deal.

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Alma mater // Wikimedia Commons

#19. James Madison University

- Location: Harrisonburg, VA
- Number of undergraduates: 18,905
- Net price: $16,154
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,600
- Acceptance rate: 75%
- Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #95

James Madison University is located in Harrisonburg, Va., a small college town with a tight-knit vibe. This public school has a fairly high acceptance rate of about 75% of applicants, accepting fairly large undergraduate enrollment of 18,905. Popular majors at James Madison include community health services and counseling, communications, and liberal arts and humanities.

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#18. Clemson University

- Location: Clemson, SC
- Number of undergraduates: 18,642
- Net price: $18,757
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,400
- Acceptance rate: 47%
- Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #91

Ranked #1 in Niche’s list of the best colleges in South Carolina, Clemson University is rife with school spirit and community. Getting into Clemson is moderately competitive, with an acceptance rate of 47%. With a low student to faculty ratio of 16 students to each faculty member, students at Clemson get the individualized attention they need. Popular majors here include business, biology, and marketing.

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#17. University of California, Los Angeles

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Number of undergraduates: 30,458
- Net price: $14,760
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $60,700
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #88

UCLA boasts high academic rankings, notable sports teams, immense school spirit, and a beautiful location, situated between the glamourous neighborhoods of Bel Air and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. One of California’s top-ranking schools, UCLA has an extremely competitive acceptance rate of 16% of applicants. With a net price of $14,760, this college is quite a value for an education ranked #2 on Niche’s list of top public colleges in America.

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#16. University of Florida

- Location: Gainesville, FL
- Number of undergraduates: 31,384
- Net price: $15,283
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,000
- Acceptance rate: 42%
- Student-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #83

Named the best college in Florida by Niche, the University of Florida balances big school spirit and strong academics. A large enrollment of 31,384 undergraduates gives a large Southern college culture, as does UF’s position as an NCAA-Division I school, and sporting events are a huge part of campus life. Popular majors at this college include biology, psychology, and liberal arts and humanities.

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#15. University of Wisconsin

- Location: Madison, WI
- Number of undergraduates: 28,977
- Net price: $15,910
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,200
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #79

Ranked the best university in Wisconsin by Niche, the University of Wisconsin is also a large school, with an enrollment of 28,977 undergraduates. To get in is moderately competitive at a 54% acceptance rate. Though the school is large, the low student to teacher ratio of 18 students to each member of faculty is maintained. Like other schools of this size, this university is bursting with school pride.

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Caroline Culler // WIkimedia Commons

#14. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

- Location: Chapel Hill, NC
- Number of undergraduates: 18,303
- Net price: $11,100
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,600
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Student-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #76

One of North Carolina’s top public universities and the #7 public university in America according to Niche, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is located near the Raleigh area in, you guessed it, Chapel Hill, N.C. This university is also quite a financial value at $11,100. Popular majors at UNC Chapel Hill include communications, biology, and psychology.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#13. University of Texas at Austin

- Location: Austin, TX
- Number of undergraduates: 37,740
- Net price: $14,356
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,200
- Acceptance rate: 36%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #74

Niche’s top public university in Texas, the University of Texas - Austin has the advantage of being in the quirky and youthful town of Austin, Texas. Full of music, art, tech, and culture, the cultural hub of the state offers a lot of career opportunities for graduates. However, this college has a fairly competitive acceptance rate of 36%.

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#12. Purdue University

- Location: West Lafayette, IN
- Number of undergraduates: 30,277
- Net price: $12,117
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,100
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Student-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #73

This large college in West Lafayette, Ind., is Niche’s top public university in the state. The enrollment is large at 30,277 undergraduates and a moderately competitive acceptance rate of 57%. With a net price of $12,117, this school is a financial value. Popular majors at Purdue include business, mechanical engineering, and industrial engineering.

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Brion Vibber // Wikimedia Commons

#11. University of Southern California

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Number of undergraduates: 18,631
- Net price: $32,892
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $74,000
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Student-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #72

The arch rival of the University of California - Los Angeles, USC is its private counterpart in Los Angeles. Earning its spot as the best design college in America according to Niche, USC has a very competitive acceptance rate of 17%. The student to faculty ratio is low here with just nine students to every faculty member. Popular majors at USC include business, communications, and biology.

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Killivalavan Solai // Wikimedia Commons

#10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

- Location: Champaign, IL
- Number of undergraduates: 32,613
- Net price: $16,638
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,500
- Acceptance rate: 62%
- Student-faculty ratio: 20:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #71

Named Niche’s best public university in Illinois, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a large Midwestern school with an enrollment of 32,613 undergraduates. Known for its strong research facilities, popular majors include research and experimental psychology, economics, and accounting. At a fairly affordable net price of $16,638, this great school is also a great value, with alumni earning a starting salary of $47,100.

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Maureen.allen // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Texas A&M University

- Location: College Station, TX
- Number of undergraduates: 46,724
- Net price: $19,554
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,000
- Acceptance rate: 71%
- Student-faculty ratio: 21:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #70

This traditional Southern university boasts big school spirit and a lively sports culture. In College Station, Texas, Texas A&M is by no means a small school, with an enrollment of 46,724 undergraduates. Getting in is somewhat competitive at a 71% acceptance rate. Popular majors here include liberal arts and humanities, foods, nutrition, and wellness studies, and agricultural business.

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Indefiarch // Wikimedia Commons

#8. California Polytechnic State University

- Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
- Number of undergraduates: 20,584
- Net price: $19,002
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $66,900
- Acceptance rate: 35%
- Student-faculty ratio: 22:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #65

Known by locals as SLO, San Luis Obispo is home to California Polytechnic State University, one of the two polytechnic state universities in California, the other being Pomona. Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo is a fairly large school with an enrollment of 20,584 undergraduates, however the acceptance rate is fairly competitive at 35% of applicants. Popular majors here are centered on math and sciences, including business, mechanical engineering, and biology.

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Charlie Nguyen // Wikimedia Commons

#7. University of California, Berkeley

- Location: Berkeley, CA
- Number of undergraduates: 29,351
- Net price: $18,178
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $64,700
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Student-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #58

The first University of California, Berkeley was founded in 1868 and was the start of the legacy of academics in the University of California system. Known by students as “Cal,” Berkeley is situated just across the bay from San Francisco, giving students access to the booming job market in the city. A large school with an enrollment of nearly 30,000, this school has just as much school spirit as it does academic accolades. With an acceptance rate of 17%, this school is highly competitive and ranked #6 on Niche’s list of top public universities in America.

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Jimmy and Sasha Reade // Flickr

#6. Virginia Tech

- Location: Blacksburg, VA
- Number of undergraduates: 26,603
- Net price: $18,700
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $62,500
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Student-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #50

This highly rated public university is a large institution and was ranked #10 in Niche’s ranking of the top public universities in America. Virginia Tech has an enrollment of 26,603 and an acceptance rate of 70% of applicants. Popular majors here include mechanical engineering, management sciences and information systems, and finance.

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AndrewHorne // Wikimedia Commons

#5. University of Michigan

- Location: Ann Arbor, MI
- Number of undergraduates: 28,702
- Net price: $16,408
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $63,400
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Student-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #49

Named the top public university in America by Niche, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor has a competitive acceptance rate of 27% of applicants. This university is definitely a financial value with a net price of $16,408. Popular majors here include information science, business, and research and experimental psychology.

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Bestbudbrian // Wikimedia Commons

#4. University of Virginia

- Location: Charlottesville, VA
- Number of undergraduates: 15,766
- Net price: $16,594
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,200
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Student-faculty ratio: 15:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #34

In Charlottesville, this moderately large public university has a competitive acceptance rate of 27% and a total undergraduate enrollment of 15,766. Alumni earn a starting salary of $50,300, which is quite a deal considering the net price of tuition is $16,594. Popular majors at the University of Virginia include liberal arts and humanities, economics, and business.

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#3. Cornell University

- Location: Ithaca, NY
- Number of undergraduates: 14,898
- Net price: $31,449
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $77,200
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- Student-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #24

This private university is part of the Ivy League universities and is located in Ithaca, N.Y. With a very competitive acceptance rate of 13% of applicants, Cornell promises a very individualized curriculum with a very low ratio of students to faculty, with nine students to every faculty member. It was ranked #7 in Niche’s ranking of best colleges for business and the most popular majors include biology, computer science, and of course, business.

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#2. Georgia Institute of Technology

- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Number of undergraduates: 13,974
- Net price: $15,873
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $79,100
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Student-faculty ratio: 22:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #13

In the heart of the city of Atlanta, the Georgia Institute of Technology is a competitive university with an acceptance rate of 23% of applicants. While it has a higher student to faculty ratio of 22 students to each faculty member, the school still retains a moderately smaller feel with an undergraduate enrollment of only 13,974. For the bargain net tuition price of $15,873, there’s a lot of academic punch. Popular majors include mechanical engineering, information science, and industrial engineering.

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#1. University of Pennsylvania

- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Number of undergraduates: 10,496
- Net price: $24,539
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $85,900
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Student-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Overall Niche best value rank: #11

And taking the top slot as the best value big college in America is the University of Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, this elite private university is highly selective, with a very low acceptance rate of 9% of applicants. The competitive nature of this university is matched with an individualized curriculum and a very low student to faculty ratio of six students to every faculty member. While a net price just shy of $25,000, the payoff of going to this university is large, with most alumni earning a starting salary of $71,600. Popular majors at Penn include finance, nursing, and economics.

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