America's Top Public Universities

In response to the growing popularity of public universities, U.S. News & World Report has released a supplement to its Best College 2011 rankings. The Top Public Schools: National Universities list features institutions that ranked highly in their original categories, and each comes with one big bonus - public school tuition.

Rising College Costs

Elite Schools, Elite Prices

In U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges 2011 rankings, the top two schools are Harvard University (#1 national university) and Williams College (#1 national liberal arts college).

But what, you may ask, does it cost to attend these schools? 2010-2011 tuition and fees are:

  • Harvard University: $50,723
  • Williams College: $52,340

While those numbers do include room and board, they don't cover books, personal expenses or travel costs. Harvard suggests that you budget about $6,000 more for those expenses.

Of course, few students attending institutions like Harvard or Williams actually pay the full cost. These schools have large endowments, and many - including Williams - offer need-blind admissions. Furthermore, they promise that each student admitted will have her or his need met.

Student Debt

Got Sticker Shock? Try Public

But for many, having financial needs met still means taking out significant student loans. That's a pretty unappealing prospect at any time, and even more so in this economy.

As a result, more and more people have turned to public universities. If you can get in-state tuition, these schools are a bargain. At UC Berkeley, #1 in the new Top Public Schools: National Universities rankings, in-state tuition and fees are only about $12,460 for the 2010-2011 school year. And while many public institutions have had to raise out-of-state charges to make up for budgetary shortfalls during the recession, they still typically cost much less than private institutions (about $35,340 at Berkeley).

However, just because students are bargain hunting doesn't mean they're not also looking for a quality education. So U.S. News & World Report decided to release a supplement to its Best Colleges 2011 list that ranks just America's top public universities.

While college rankings are an admittedly controversial measure of quality, they nonetheless offer a useful guide to students seeking to learn more about their prospective schools.

For the top public rankings, U.S. News selected schools that were in the top 75% of their original ranking category. Institutions were then re-ranked so as to maintain their original order in the overall rankings. Schools that tied in the original rankings maintained their tie in the new ones.

University of California Berkeley

UC Berkeley

Top 26 Public National Universities

1. University of California - Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

2. University of California - Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

2. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI

5. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

6. College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

7. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

7. University of California - San Diego, La Jolla, CA

9. University of California - Davis, Davis, CA

9. University of California - Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

11. University of California - Irvine, Irvine, CA

11. University of Washington, Seattle, WA

13. University of Texas - Austin, Austin, TX

13. University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI

15. Pennsylvania State University - University Park, University Park, PA

15. University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL

17. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

18. Ohio State University - Columbus, Columbus, OH

18. Purdue University - West Lafayette, West Lafayette, IN

18. University of Georgia, Athens, GA

18. University of Maryland - College Park, College Park, MD

22. Texas A&M University - College Station, College Station, TX

23. Clemson University, Clemson, SC

23. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, Piscataway, NJ

23. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN

23. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

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