Best Colleges

40. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Value Grade/Ranking Score: A-/3.63
Enrollment: 18,503
Net Price of Degree: $84,113
Acceptance Rate: 33%
Average H.S. GPA: 4.53
Avg. Annual Salary Within 5 Yrs: $44,200
Students listen as Donald Hornstein teaches a MOOC class at the School of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dan Sears—UNC Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is the lowest-cost public school for in-state students in MONEY’s top 50. Among the strongest departments at UNC are biology and other sciences, traditional liberal arts such as religious studies, and journalism.

UNC has a comparatively high graduation rate of 89%, which is six percentage points higher than what you’d expect for schools with similar student populations. Sports play a big role on campus: Basketball games are typically sold out, especially when the Tar Heels face Duke, their fiercest rival. Other teams excel as well. The women’s soccer team has won 22 NCAA titles.

When they aren’t studying or cheering, students have access to hundreds of on-campus clubs, as well as the college town’s many nightclubs and restaurants. UNC’s high female-to-male ratio of 58:42, though, causes some complaints about the social life. On University Day every year, the school celebrates its place as the nation’s first public university. Presidents including John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton have addressed students in the past.

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