UVA, JMU and Virginia Tech are among the 25 best values in higher education, according to new rankings from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine

The Kiplinger “100: Best Values in Public Colleges” list ranks University of Virginia third, James Madison University 19th and Virginia Tech 24th among 100 institutions “that combine outstanding economic value with a first-class education,” according to the publication’s editors.

According to the magazine’s editors, private colleges cost, on average $36,000 a year — a sharp difference to the public schools listed in the February issue.

“Despite rising tuition costs, there are still many first-rate institutions providing outstanding academics at an affordable price,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s. “Schools like these on the Kiplinger 100 list prove graduates can enter the workforce with a great education — and without a huge cloud of debt.”

The financial environment for colleges and universities couldn’t be worse, the magazine points out. “Over the past few years, states have cut funding for colleges and universities by tens of millions of dollars, leaving schools much smaller budgets to cope with increased enrollment and greater demand for financial aid,” the article says. “Federal stimulus funding, which provided crucial support, will soon run out, and Medicaid continues to deplete state coffers.

UVA and the College of William & Mary, which ranked fourth, received special recognition in the issue.

“Two Virginia schools deserve special Kiplinger kudos for consistently maintaining their position among our top five since our first rankings, in 1998,” the article said, citing graduation rates, high-achieving incoming students and attractive financial aid packages.

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