In 1855, Berea was the first school in the South to admit both blacks and whites, men and women. It’s still incredibly inclusive: Tuition is free. Like College of the Ozarks, a Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri, Berea’s mandate is to supply worthy rural kids with an academic opportunity and personal attention. The only catch is you’ll be expected to work 10 to 15 hours a week someplace such as in a dorm or a kitchen. In other schools, that’s a work-study job. Here, that time pays the whole bill.
Brigham Young University
Tuition at this university, run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a mere $4, 290, or just $2,145 for Mormons. But depending on your point of view, there could be a catch: Anyone who attends BYU had better be more interested in learning than partying. When corporations are hiring, they come here, because the students are perceived as upstanding and dedicated.
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
New York City, NY
Cooper Union, in Manhattan’s East Village, may be the best bargain in America. Thanks to a huge endowment, tuition at this cream-of-the-crop institution is free for anyone lucky enough to be accepted. The workload is so heavy that students are pretty much always busy, but Cooper Union supplies some of the nation’s finest programs in architecture, engineering, and fine arts.
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
The oldest state university in the nation, it offers more than 50 majors and a nationally acclaimed curriculum. The Princeton Review has called its tuition for in-state residents “sinfully cheap.” That’s because it maxes out at $1,932.50 per semester for 12 hours or more of undergraduate classes, or $3,865 for a full academic year of two semesters. On paper, out-of-state residents don’t get it nearly as good: $21,753. Fortunately, UNC’s average financial aid package is high for a state school, so even out-of-staters end up getting a very good deal
University of Virginia
Its endowment is worth nearly $4 billion, so applicants who qualify for aid are usually able to win a lot of it (an average of $12,400 per student per year). As one of the first colleges to offer financial aid, it’s still leading the way, and its AccessUVA program promises to meet all of students’ financial needs up to a surprisingly high level: $44,000 for a family of four. Like UNC Chapel Hill, UVA strives to keep needy students from ever having to take out loans at all, relying instead on grants and scholarships that don’t need to be paid back, so graduates leave with debt in the extreme low ranks compared to all national universities.
Rice’s spectacular endowment — $946,785 per student- means that pretty much nobody pays the $31,430 annual tuition. The university pledges to meet 100% of a student’s proven needs. Needless to say, that makes entry into Rice, known as a strong sciences school, as competitive as for any Ivy League institution, yet Rice isn’t widely known outside the Houston area.
University of Texas
Sure, it’s a good school in a lively town, but it’s also big in all the right ways. With undergraduate enrolment around 40,000, there’s a good chance of getting in — 50% of applicants are accepted. Those odds are more competitive than they were before the recession started, but they’re still darn good. Since Texas has one of the biggest college endowments in America, there’s plenty of aid to go around. Often, if an out-of-state student receives least $1,000 in academic scholarships from the university, he or she will become eligible to pay the in-state rate.
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