The University of Virginia retained its No. 3 ranking for the sixth time in seven years in the "100 Best Values in Public Colleges" list, released today by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.

"As states cut funding for higher education and tuition continues to climb, the word 'value' becomes more significant than ever," said Jane Bennett Clark, senior editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance. "This year’s top 100 public schools deliver strong academics at reasonable prices. We applaud these institutions for tightening their belts without compromising quality."

According to its press release, Kiplinger's assesses quality and affordability based on a number of measurable standards. This year, rankings were revamped to give more weight to academic value, such as the percentage of students who return for sophomore year and the four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include low sticker prices, abundant financial aid and low average debt at graduation.

The article says of U.Va.: "This elite institution not only has a competitive admission rate (33 percent), but also the highest graduation rate. And it stands out for its generous financial aid: U.Va. is one of the two schools in our rankings that meet the full financial need of enrolled students (the other is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Students who qualify for need-based aid pay an average annual cost of only $5,138."

For out-of-state students, U.Va. remained the No. 5 best value among public colleges and universities.

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