Anyone who purports to name the best college bargains begins on shaky ground. Every student has different needs and interests. What looks like a bargain to one person may be too expensive at any price for the next. Furthermore, because high-cost colleges frequently offer extensive financial aid, institutions that charge a higher sticker price can still turn out to be bargains for students who get scholarships based on merit or need.

With those caveats, we offer several lists to cover our picks for the best bargains in American higher education. Most of the institutions in this section are publicly-supported. For in-staters, these schools typically cost a third to a half as much as their private counterparts. For out-of-state students, the bill usually totals about two thirds the cost of a private institution. Colleges and universities listed in The Budget Ivy League enroll more than 5,000 students, while Small-College Bargains include those that enroll under 5,000.

State University of New York/Binghamton. The best public university in the Northeast … Not as well known as UVA or Michigan because it has no big-time sports … Superb in the liberal arts as well as pre-professional areas … Weathered New York State budget cuts the sensible way: by downsizing and becoming more selective.

University of Minnesota/Morris. If you’ve ever taken a wrong turn on the way to Duluth, you might have stumbled upon one of the best public liberal arts colleges in the country … Morris combines superb students, small classes, dedicated faculty, and an isolated prairie location.

Miami University (OH). Ohio’s version of a public honors university … Beautiful campus evokes private-university atmosphere … Well-known business school sets the tone of campus … Known as the “mother of fraternities” because several began here … A bastion of Midwestern conservatism.

Source: The Fiske Guide to Getting Into the Right College.

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