A college education can set students up for a lifetime of professional success. But the reality is that getting into a good school is difficult, as many top tier schools are highly selective and prohibitively expensive.
Yet there are a number of publicly-funded schools that offer high-quality education that are more affordable and more accessible than smaller, private schools. These schools are located across the country, and in almost every case are less expensive than the typical private school.
To determine the top public university in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on academics, admissions, finance, and student life from school data platform Niche. We reviewed schools with a grade of A+ in Niche’s 2021 Top Public Universities in America report.
The 31 public universities with A+ grades from Niche are spread across 18 states — six are in California, three are in Virginia, while Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, and Florida are home to two apiece.
Part of the reason these schools rank so highly is that their students go on to be relatively financially successful, earning high incomes and reporting low unemployment rates. Though this may be at least partly due to large alumni networks and high-quality education, some of the alumni’s success is due to the fact that these schools tend to award a large share of degrees in fields that can translate into high-income careers, like business and engineering.
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor is the top public university. Here are the details:
> Location: Ann Arbor, MI
> Undergraduate enrollment: 31,266
> Avg. net price: $17,357
> Admission rate: 22.9%
> Avg. earnings 10 years after entry: $79,000
Because of its high ranking professors, value, academics, campus, and more, the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor ranks as the very best public university in America. With such a sterling reputation, the university can accept only the top students. Its 22.9% admissions rate is one of the lowest among public colleges, and its median combined SAT score of 1420 ranks third highest among all public colleges. Michigan’s 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio is among the lowest for public colleges, providing students more individualized attention, which tends to result in a better educational experience.
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor tends to set its students up for success. Average earnings among alumni students a decade after they enter college is $79,000, one of the 10 highest for all public schools. Though its average net price of over $17,000 is higher than most other American public colleges, its students receive earn an average of $21,174 in financial aid, the highest average for any public school.
Our methodology: To determine the top public university in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on academics, admissions, finance, and student life from school data platform Niche. We reviewed schools with a grade of A+ in Niche’s 2021 Top Public Universities in America report. Niche ranked only public four-year universities. Supplemental data on undergraduate enrollment as of fall 2019, average net price in the 2018-19 school year, the most common degree conferred during the 2017-18 academic year, and median earnings in 2015 of students who entered university in the and 2004-05 academic year came from the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education.