The cost of a public college education continues to rise, despite an improving economy. The University of Maryland recently announced a rare midyear tuition increase of about 2 percent. The governing board of the University of North Carolina system is considering hiking tuition 4 percent next year and 3.5 percent the following year for state residents. And University of California leaders say they’ll have to raise tuition 28 percent over the next five years unless the state gives the system more money.
That’s why it’s more important than ever for students and parents to cast a wide net in their college search. It may seem counterintuitive, but don’t be put off by high sticker prices, particularly at private colleges and universities with generous financial aid packages. Students with top grades and stellar test scores or other attributes attractive to colleges may be eligible for discounts of up to 70 percent off the published price. Here are 10 schools from Kiplinger’s 2015 combined list of public and private school of 300 best college values where the net price tag per student (tuition, fees, room and board, and books) after financial aid is $ 20,000 a year or less.