Going to College without Going into Debt

Here’s a list of affordable colleges – and advice to save you even more

The Princeton Review is a college ratings company best known for its annual list of “Biggest Party Schools.” But it also releases lesser-known lists that are more practical for the savvy shopper – like the one called 2014 Best Value Colleges.

Released last month, it analyzes “30 data points with cost data reflecting school-reported figures for 2013-14.” Researchers then added historical information “collected over the past three academic years from its surveys of students about their satisfaction with their financial aid awards and academic experiences at their schools.”

While The Princeton Review rates both public and private schools, Consolidated Credit cares more about the former – because Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are all on the private Top 10. None of those are exactly cheap, even if you can get in.

But the public list looks like this…

  1. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  2. New College of Florida (Sarasota)
  3. University of Virginia (Charlottesville)
  4. North Carolina State University (Raleigh)
  5. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  6. University of California – Los Angeles
  7. University of Florida (Gainesville)
  8. The College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, VA)
  9. Truman State University (Kirksville, MO)
  10. State University of New York at Binghamton

USA Today worked with The Princeton Review to create a high-tech interactive list of the 150 Best Value Colleges. If you or your child are looking at schools for the fall – and now is the time to start – check it out. It’s free.

Consolidated Credit also suggests you consider…

  1. Going to a cheaper community college. The simple truth is, even if you seek an advanced degree, your first two years are just to get your Associate’s degree. And some states, like California, will guarantee your transfer to certain four-year schools if you get good grades and meet other requirements. At the same time, many community colleges are starting to offer four-year degrees.
  2. Applying for scholarships. Did you know there is $6 billion worth of scholarships out there? Yes, with a B! Finding them is a website away. Check out The College Board’s Scholarship Search tool.

If you’re too deeply into debt to afford college, call Consolidated Credit for a free debt analysis. A certified counselor can show you the path to financial freedom.