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Overview of Pennsylvania's Higher Education & Career Education

Pennsylvania is home to over 400 colleges and universities. See rankings of the best and most affordable schools in Pennsylvania to determine which might be right for you.

With so many choices in where to attend college in Pennsylvania, it's important to consider many factors when deciding on your education plan, such as nearness to large cities, student population, net costs, and graduation rates. The National Center for Education Statistics provides information on all these criteria to help you figure out a plan for higher education.

Pennsylvania Schools Near Large Cities

Being able to travel to and from large cities from your campus is beneficial for many reasons, especially when it comes to socializing outside of school and buying things for your dorm. The NCES lists several colleges that are located in or around large and midsized cities in Pennsylvania, such as:

  • Carlow University (Pittsburgh)
  • Chestnut Hill College (Philadelphia)
  • Gannon University (Erie)
  • Muhlenberg College (Allentown)

Largest Schools in Pennsylvania

Larger student populations are often preferable for many students, since it allows for a more diverse campus and often goes hand in hand with a larger number of activities and clubs that can be found around school. The NCES lists the Pennsylvania schools with the largest number of students attending in fall of 2014. The top five are:

  • Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus (47,040)
  • Temple University (37,485)
  • University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus (28,617)
  • Drexel University (26,359)
  • University of Pennsylvania (24,806)

Lowest Net Price

The average net price for a college or university is determined by subtracting the amount of government or institutional financial aid a student receives from the total cost of attendance. The figures for these five Pennsylvania schools are based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the 2014-2015 academic year.

  • Westmoreland County Community College ($2,907)
  • Butler County Community College ($4,099)
  • Pennsylvania Highlands Community College ($4,864)
  • Lehigh Carbon Community College ($5,152)
  • Community College of Allegheny County ($5,558)

Highest Graduation Rate

The overall graduation rate for a school includes the number of students who completed their studies in 150% of 'normal time' (for example, four years would be the 'normal time' for a bachelor's program). Based on NCES figures for full-time students, the following traditional 4-year Pennsylvania schools had the highest graduation rates for those who began schooling in fall 2009.

  • University of Pennsylvania (95%)
  • Swarthmore College (94%)
  • Bucknell University (90%)
  • Villanova University (90%)
  • Lafayette College (90%)

Choosing where to attend college is a big decision, so remember to take into account a school's location, student population, net costs, and graduation rate before deciding where you want to go in Pennsylvania.

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