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The Top 15 East Coast Colleges Under 25K a Year

When you’re making the decision of what college to attend, there are probably two main considerations on your mind: location, and price. The first question is, do you want to stay close to home, or is there a new city or another part of the country you would like to explore? And the second question is, will your college choice be relatively affordable, or will it financially strain your family beyond their means, as the cost of a quality education continues to rise.

The East Coast, including New England, is where some of the best (and not to mention oldest) colleges in the United States can be found. Of course, when you think about good colleges in this area, your mind probably goes to the Ivy League: a group of eight highly prestigious institutions that are concentrated in the New England area.

Ivy League colleges Source: AMRCA

Below are the locations and founding years of the eight institutions that constitute the Ivy League. The Ivy League is made up of eight highly prestigious institutions with strict admissions requirements and high tuition costs. The location and founding year of each institution is listed below.

Institution Year founded Location
Harvard 1736 Boston, Massachusetts
Yale 1702 New Haven, Connecticut
Princeton 1746 Princeton, New Jersey
University of Pennsylvania 1740 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Brown 1746 Providence, Rhode Island
Dartmouth 1769 Hanover, New Hampshire
Columbia 1754 New York, New York
Cornell 1865 Ithaca, New York

The Old Queens building at Rutgers UniversitySource: RU

The prestigious Rutgers University is a surprisingly affordable school with a rich history. The university’s oldest building – known simply as “Old Queens” – is pictured in the 2005 image below.

The Ivy League schools, however, are notoriously expensive, but there are several other great schools on the East Coast that are definitely worthy of your attention. The purpose of this article is to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the 15 best colleges on the East Coast with tuition of less than $25,000 a year. Main topics that will be addressed here will include the following:

  • demographic details on the colleges
  • proportion of in-state versus out-of-state students
  • breakdown of SAT, ACT, and GPA scores
  • financial aid information
  • campus life
  • comparison of quality with Ivy League and community colleges
  • comparison of debt between these schools and others
  • comparison of graduation rates
  • rankings across various metrics
  • other valuable information

The top 15 East Coast colleges under $25,000 per year

Once you’ve made the decision to attend a physical college, instead of going to college from home, you want to attend the school that best fits you. A ranking of top colleges is always somewhat subjective in nature: the best college for you will always depend on your own specific and individual priorities, and this cannot really be generalized. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify these following schools as the top 15 East Coast colleges with a tuition of less than $25,000/year.

The top 15 East Coast colleges under $25,000 (Ranked by annual tuition)

Searching for quality education at an affordable price is a daunting task. Each of the 15 East Coast colleges below are reputable schools with annual tuitions of $25,000 or less.

College Location Tuition
Baruch College New York, NY $6,330
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC $8,566
Towson University Towson, MD $8,590
University of Delaware Newark, DE $12,830
Rowan University Glassboro, NJ $13,108
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT $13,366
Clemson University Clemson, SC $13,822
Rutgers University Township, NJ $14,372
University of Vermont Burlington, VT $14,664
University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA $15,156
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA $15,714
Pennsylvania State University State College, PA $17,514
University of New Hampshire Durham, NH $17,624
College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA $19,372
Cooper Union New York, NY $21,000

None of these schools are part of the Ivy League; all them are located in the East Coast region of the country; and all of them have a tuition rate of less than $25K/year. Again, different criteria can easily produce different list of what the “real” top 15 colleges are. But for intended purposes, the 15 schools selected above will do the job for those who elect to attend campus in-person, rather than attending courses online.

In-state tuition vs. out-of-state tuition

All of the top 15 East Coast colleges selected above are public institutions, which means that they are funded by the states in which they are located. (Cooper Union is the one exception: it is private, but has a universal half-off-tuition scholarship for all first-time students. And this generally also means that the cost of tuition will be dramatically lower for a resident of that state that it would for someone who is coming to the college from out of state. Almost all public colleges have this kind of provision, in which “outsiders” are charged far more for tuition than “insiders”.

For example, the tuition at the University of Connecticut is $10,524/year for a student from the state of Connecticut itself; but it is $32,066/year for students from outside of Connecticut—2.6 times as much!

In-state vs. out-of-state tuition (University of Connecticut) Source: UC

Attending an out-of-state college can be expensive. The chart below compares in-state and out-of-state tuition at the University of Connecticut.

Likewise, the list above has only included public colleges, because private colleges are almost always expensive—certainly more expensive than $25,000/year. In short: to keep college affordable, it is often necessary to go to a public college within a state in which one is a resident.

Scholarships and residency lower tuition costs

There are two important exceptions, however, to this general rule.

  1. Scholarships can often bring down the cost of tuition at a college by a very significant amount.
  2. It is often relatively simple to become a resident of a given state.

For example, it is a fact that if a high school student is a National Merit Scholar, then the University of Texas waives the out-of-state fee for applicants from outside of the state, which amounts to a relief of about $25,000/year. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the purpose of the program is to provide recognition for academically brilliant students; and many colleges respect this designation through rewards such as the waiver mentioned above.

Moreover, if you have your heart set on affordably going to college in a certain state, then it may be possible to become a resident of that state before enrolling in college to offset the cost associated with higher education. For example, this is the requirement put forth by the Connecticut General Assembly for establishing residency within the state of Connecticut:

Those employed full-time in Connecticut and their spouses and dependents can apply for residency status after living in the state for six months if they provide evidence of domicile and the employee is not in the state primarily as a full-time student.

This would mean that if you went to Connecticut, found a place to live, and worked a full-time job for six months, then you could apply for residency within the state of Connecticut—and then apply for the University of Connecticut and receive the in-state tuition rate. The requirements vary from state to state, and this kind of plan may not be ideal; but the only point here is that it is at least a possibility for going to college in an affordable way.

Demographics of the top 15 East Coast colleges

When you are deciding what college to attend, demographic information may play a significant role in your decision. For example, you may want to go to a school where minority groups are adequately represented, or where there is a fairly equal number of men and women on campus. So, here is some information for the top 15 schools that have been listed above.

Gender and racial diversity at the top 15 East Coast colleges

Demographic information makes it easy to find schools with gender and racial diversity. The table below shows statistics on the proportions of female students and minority students attending each of the top 15 East Coast colleges below. While most of the colleges are roughly split between male and female students, the percentage of minority students varies widely from school to school.

College Percentage of women Percentage of minority races
University of Connecticut 50% 39%
Clemson University 47% 17%
College of William and Mary 58% 42%
Cooper Union 33% 68%
Pennsylvania State University 46% 23%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 60% 29%
University of Virginia 56% 32%
University of New Hampshire 46% 20%
Rowan University 48% 28%
University of Massachusetts Amherst 49% 21%
Rutgers University 50% 61%
University of Vermont 56% 19%
Towson University 60% 37%
Baruch College 50% 62%
University of Delaware 58% 22%

Student diversity on campusSource: Flickr

Student diversity is an essential part of the collegiate experience for many prospective students.

The top 15 East Coast colleges (By gender and racial diversity)

Diversity on campus is something students look for when choosing a school. The table below ranks the top 15 East Coast colleges by gender and racial diversity.

Rank Gender diversity Racial diversity
1 Towson University Cooper Union
2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Baruch College
3 College of William and Mary Rutgers University
4 University of Delaware College of William and Mary
5 University of Vermont University of Connecticut
6 University of Virginia Towson University
7 University of Connecticut University of Virginia
8 Rutgers University University of Massachusetts Amherst
9 Baruch College Rowan University
10 University of Massachusetts Amherst Pennsylvania State University
11 Clemson University University of Delaware
12 Rowan University University of Massachusetts Amherst
13 Pennsylvania State University University of New Hampshire
14 University of New Hampshire University of Vermont
15 Cooper Union Clemson University

In general, it would seem that the numbers for gender are more equal than are the numbers for race: almost all of the top 15 colleges listed above are close to a 50/50 split on gender, but the numbers vary to a significantly greater extent when it comes to race.

Out-of-state students at the top 15 East Coast colleges

Out-of-state student attendance at the top 15 East Coast colleges Source: CX

Out-of-state students are in the minority at most of the top 15 East Coast colleges. The University of Delaware has the highest percentage of out-of-state-students (73%) among the colleges listed below. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Rowan University, with only 3% of its students coming from out-of-state.

College Percentage of out-of-state students
University of Connecticut 21%
Clemson University 31%
College of William and Mary 33%
Cooper Union N/a
Pennsylvania State University 28%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 18%
University of Virginia 27%
University of New Hampshire 40%
Rowan University 3%
University of Massachusetts Amherst 21%
Rutgers University 16%
University of Vermont 66%
Towson University 16%
Baruch College 4%
University of Delaware 73%

It is very difficult to find systematic and highly credible numbers for this metric across colleges, so it is possible that some of these numbers aren’t quite exact. Nevertheless, the general idea is still conveyed: out-of-state students are the minority in almost all of the top 15 East Coast colleges, and the very small minority in at least a couple of them.

In-state tuition is cheaper than out-of-state tuition

It is easy to explain not only the outliers in the data above but also the main trend as well. There are two main points that need to be noted here.

  1. Public colleges are almost significantly cheaper—and often dramatically cheaper—for in-state students than for out-of-state students.
  2. If a state is very small (such as Vermont or Delaware), then a large part of the student body would have to come from out of the state, almost by logistical necessity; and those colleges probably have programs to incentivize this influx.

Again, in the absence of scholarships, almost all of the colleges listed above will not be cheaper than $25K/year for out-of-state students. This puts pressure on students without scholarships to go to college in their own home states. And this is why out-of-state students are almost always a minority at any given college.

Measures of student performance (SATs, ACTs, and GPAs)

SAT, and ACT scores can play a big factor in admittance. These are the average SAT, ACT, and GPA scores for the top 15 East Coast colleges under $25K/year.

Average SAT scores, ACT scores, and GPAs of admitted students Source: PS

Knowing the average SAT scores, ACT scores, and GPAs of admitted students can help you gauge your chances of admission. The table below shows how students admitted into the top 15 East Coast colleges performed on key academic metrics.

University of Connecticut
1840 27 3.51
Clemson University
1795 29 4.18
College of William and Mary
2035 30 4.19
Cooper Union
1987 33 3.60
Pennsylvania State University
1890 27 3.60
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1950 29 4.56
University of Virginia
1997 30 4.22
University of New Hampshire
1644 24 3.44
Rowan University
1644 24 3.50
University of Massachusetts Amherst
1840 27 3.83
Rutgers University
1808 30 3.63
University of Vermont
1786 26 3.48
Towson University
1630 23 3.61
Baruch College
1845 24 3.21
University of Delaware
1784 26 3.50

These numbers are averages, which means that some students who were admitted to these colleges scored below these numbers, and that some students who were admitted scored above these numbers. (In addition to test scores, admitted students likely had a well-written college admissions essay.) Also, regarding the GPA data, it is worth noting that there be some discrepancies, depending on whether a given college acknowledges the weighted system or not: for example, it is possible for the average GPA at Clemson to be 4.18 because Clemson clearly accepts high school data where some courses (such as AP courses) have an “A” weighted at 5.0.

Also keep in mind that the SAT changes from March of 2016 impacted requirements at many schools.

How top 15 East Coast college students compare to Ivy League students

For the sake of contrast, it may be worth comparing the scores of a couple of these top 15 colleges with the scores of a couple Ivy League colleges. Let’s select Clemson and the University of Virginia from the top 15, and Harvard and Yale from the Ivy League.

Average SATs and GPAs – Top 15 East Coast colleges vs. Ivy League colleges Source: PS

Ivy League colleges may have higher SAT expectations than the top 15 East Coast colleges; however, both types of colleges appear to have similar GPA expectations.

College SATi GPAii
East Coast colleges under $25,000
Clemson University 1795 4.18
University of Virginia 1997 4.22
Ivy League colleges
Yale University 2265 4.19
Harvard University 2260 4.04

This data suggests that although the average GPA of some Ivy League schools is comparable to that of some top 15 colleges, the Ivy Leagues school have a substantially higher level of expectation when it comes to the SAT.

There are two possible explanations for this, however. The first is that the Ivy League schools are simply more academically rigorous than the top 15 colleges listed above. The second, though, is that the Ivy League schools may simply weigh standardized tests more heavily during the admissions process—with the result that students who want to get into those schools may spend a great deal of time, energy, and money preparing themselves for those tests. (However, prospective students should not overlook the importance of admissions essays in their zeal to perform well on the standardized tests.)

Money, money, moneySource: Flickr

College is expensive. Fortunately, most students are eligible to receive financial aid to make their dream schools more affordable.

Financial aid information

It may be tedious for you to hear about the specific financial aid numbers individually for each and every one of the top 15 East Coast colleges under $25K/year listed above. A better way to approach this subject may be to take a macro-level perspective and look at aggregate data from educational institutions across the United States. This will reflect on the financial aid patterns of the individual top 15 colleges as well, as those colleges can be assumed to be more or less typical and in line with the broader macro-level trends.

Availability of financial aid

The macro-level data on financial aid clearly indicates that quite a large number of college students are in fact able to qualify for financial aid despite the many myths. The National Center for Education Statistics, for example, has indicated that fully 71 percent of all undergraduate students in the 2011-12 academic year received some form of financial aid. The same source also indicated that 42 percent of all students that year received grants—a form of financial aid that does not need to be paid back—from the federal government.

How many students received financial aid? (2011 – 2012) Source: NCES

Most undergraduates received some form of financial aid. In the 2011 – 2012 academic year, over 2/5ths received grants from the federal government.

Sources of financial aid

In general, for anyone applying to college (including to the top 15 East Coast colleges), there are four main sources of financial aid:

  1. The federal government
  2. State governments
  3. Colleges/universities
  4. Private organizations and sources

According to a report developed by the CollegeBoard, this is how the proportion of student financial aid from each of these four sources broke down for the year 2015.

Sources of financial aid (2015) Source: CB

Students may wonder where to get financial aid. The chart below shows the four main sources of financial aid for the year 2015. In that year, colleges and universities distributed more financial aid than the federal government, state governments, and private organizations and sources.

So, whatever college you apply to, you will still have access to a wide range of financial aid from a variety of sources.

Related infographic: Student loan forgiveness options: myths vs. facts

Financial aid at Clemson University, a top 15 East Coast college

In truth, there is no systematic and directly comparable data available across the top 15 colleges regarding financial aid distribution. Different colleges report the information in different ways, and some do not consistently report it at all. It may thus be more productive to pick a specific college from the top 15 list, and conduct a case study of its own financial aid programs. Let’s thus take a look at Clemson.

Financial aid at Clemson University Source: CU

Financial aid options vary across the top 15 East Coast colleges. Below are the types of financial aid available to students at Clemson University as reported by the school’s financial aid page.

  • Pell Grant
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • South Carolina Need-based Grant
  • University scholarships
  • South Carolina scholarships
  • Private scholarships
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Federal direct loan
  • Private loans
  • Federal Work-Study
  • America Reads
  • Part-time work
Other programs
  • Nonresident aid
  • Academic Common Market
  • Clemson Corp Out-of-State Scholarship

As can be seen, the large portion of the forms of aid listed here are universally available to all college applicants, with Clemson itself just providing one specific example of that.

Tillman Hall at Clemson UniversitySource: Flickr

Located in South Carolina, Clemson University is an affordable school with a top-notch football program. The university’s clock tower, Tillman Hall, stands tall in the 2008 photograph below.

The metric of endowment

In order to determine the financial aid that may be offered specifically by any one of the top 15 East Coast colleges, it may be appropriate to use the endowment of each school as a kind of proxy metric. Endowment essentially refers to the amount of money granted to each college by its funders in any given year.

Endowments granted to the top 15 colleges

Well-funded schools tend to have more resources available to students. The list below shows the dollar amounts (in millions) of endowments granted to the top 15 East Coast colleges.

College Endowment (in millions)
University of Connecticut $383.1
Clemson University $648.6
College of William and Mary $811.2
Cooper Union $738
Pennsylvania State University $3,600
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $2,989
University of Virginia $7,530
University of New Hampshire $336
Rowan University $140.5
University of Massachusetts at Amherst $768
Rutgers University $1,002
University of Vermont $467.7
Towson University $986
Baruch College $180.7
University of Delaware $1,500

In general, the greater the endowment, the wealthier the school. However, this effect may be mitigated by proportion: that is, a large school with a large student body and a large endowment may be just as confined in its use and distribution of money as a small school with a small student body and a small endowment.

Campus life at large, public universities

The greatest advantage of going to a fairly large public university in a significant city consists of the diversity of opportunities and experiences that campus life may be able to offer you. For example, this the University of Connecticut’s database indicates that there are 674 distinct organizations active on its campus.

Student organizations and activities at the University of ConnecticutSource: Wiki

There are hundreds of ways to get involved on campus. The image below shows some of the student groups and activities at the University of Connecticut.

Again, just about all the colleges selected for the top 15 list of this article are public. This generally means that all the schools will be of at least moderate size have a fairly bustling campus life. One is not dealing with small liberal arts colleges here, where an entire class for a year may constitute a singular community all of its own. (The only exception to this statement is Cooper Union, which is a small and distinctive institution that has primarily been included in this list just for the sake of diversity).

The College Football Playoff National Championship trophySource: CFP

Clemson University won the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship – a distinction most college football teams dream of. Below is a photograph of the prestigious trophy awarded to the Clemson Tigers.

Life in the city

Depending on where you go, campus life at school may be ensconced within the broader life of the city itself. This would surely be true, for example, regarding attendance at Baruch College, which is located within the city of New York. More generally, there is always local flavor to consider. For example, if you go to Clemson, you can expect the football culture to be very prominent, given that Clemson just recently won the college football national championship for 2016.

Other colleges may have a more intellectual or academic “feel” to them. In general, at any of the top 15 colleges, you should be able to find your own niche and participate in the aspects of campus life that are the most meaningful to you, whether it’s enjoying the nightlife in your college’s city, or being frugal and spending more time at home or in your dorm.

How the top 15 East Coast colleges compare to Ivy League schools and community colleges

The top 15 East Coast colleges selected here differ from both community colleges on one hand and the Ivy League schools on the other. There are three main areas in which these differences can be noted: size, price, and prestige. While former President Obama’s plan to introduce free community college never came to fruition, community colleges still offer an affordable alternative means to obtain a quality education.

How student population size differs at Ivy League colleges, public universities, and community colleges

In general, the Ivy League schools have smaller student bodies than either the top 15 colleges selected here or community colleges. Of course, the size of a community college can vary significantly depending on where exactly the college is located. For example, student attendance at LaGuardia Community College – shown in the chart below – is higher than student attendance at most other colleges because LaGuardia is located in New York.

It is nevertheless true that both the top 15 colleges and community colleges tend to have larger student bodies than the Ivy League schools. The smaller student body sizes of the latter schools are related to their high degree of selectivity, which itself is one of the key sources of their prestige. The chart below compares the student body sizes of a select Ivy League school, public university, and community college.

Student population size by type of college

Student population size is an important factor in choosing a school. The chart below illustrates the general trend that student population size decreases as school prestige increases.

Comparing tuition at Ivy League colleges, public universities, and community colleges

The top 15 East Coast colleges listed here differ significantly from both community colleges and Ivy League schools when it comes to price. More specifically: the selected colleges cost more than community colleges, but less than the Ivy League schools.

Annual tuition by type of college

The top 15 East Coast colleges cost considerably less than Ivy League schools. The chart below shows that a year at Clemson is closer in price to a year at LaGuardia Community College than a year at Yale.

As this chart makes clear, the tuition rate at Yale (an Ivy League school) is dramatically higher than the rate at LaGuardia Community College: a year at Yale is 12.8 times the cost of a year at LaGuardia. In this context, the top 15 East Coast colleges tend to fall in the middle. For example, Clemson costs 4.3 times as much as LaGuardia, but Yale costs 2.9 times as much as Clemson.

A look at college prestige

Finally, the top 15 East Coast colleges can be differentiated from Ivy League schools and community colleges in terms of prestige. The trend here mirrors the trend regarding price: the top 15 colleges are more prestigious than community colleges, but less prestigious than the Ivy League schools. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons why community colleges are so cheap in the first place, and why the Ivy League schools are so expensive.

Moira Forbes of Forbes magazine has suggested that there is a strong correlation between an Ivy League education and dramatic success in the world:

Impressively, 30 of the 100 women on the list [of most powerful women in the world] attended an Ivy League institution. To put that in context, there are only 8 such schools with the Ivy moniker out of the tens of thousands around the world.

This is thus clearly a statistically significant correlation.

On the other hand, it is possible that there is a kind of positive feedback loop going on here. That is, highly ambitious people may naturally be drawn to Ivy League schools; their ambition also fuels professional success; and thus a correlation may emerge between an Ivy League education on the one hand and professional success on the other.

This means that if you are in fact ambitious, then you could probably get just as much progress by going to one of the top 15 East Coast colleges as to an Ivy League school. It also means that even completing the first couple years of your education at a community college may be a good option, since this would perhaps let you utilize your available resources in an optimal fashion.

Debt levels at Ivy League schools vs. public universities vs. community colleges

The levels of student debt at the top 15 East Coast colleges, the Ivy League schools, and community college tend to parallel the levels of tuition for each category of college. For example, all of the top 15 colleges (except Cooper Union) are public institutions, whereas the Ivy League schools are private nonprofits.

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, the average level of debt in the year 2012 for public college students was lower than the average level of debt for private nonprofit college students. At the same time, Sophie Quinton of Pew Charitable Trusts has indicated that most students who have debt at community colleges are somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 if they don’t qualify for some type of student loan forgiveness program.

Student debt by type of college

With the exception of Cooper Union, the top 15 East Coast colleges are public institutions. The chart below illustrates the average debt levels incurred by students attending public colleges, private colleges, and community colleges. Students attending public colleges typically have less debt than private college attendees.

Again, it is worth noting that this pattern mirrors the pattern for tuition levels themselves—which, of course, makes a great deal of sense.

Estimating debt – A word of caution

A crucial point that has to be made here is that just because community college debt levels are relatively so low does not mean that all the students will be able to successfully pay them off. Rather, Sophie Quinton of Pew Charitable Trusts has pointed out that many students default on their loans, due to the fact that they are financially struggling, within a situation in which their families may not really be capable of helping them out.

Conversely, the fact that Ivy League schools have such a high level of debt does not necessarily imply that those students will be in trouble. For one thing, students at those schools often come from wealthy backgrounds; another factor, graduates from those schools often find high-paying jobs. When you are making your college decision, then, it is important to consider not just the objective numbers but also contextual factors, such as how much money your family has and how much money you expect to make after graduation.

Graduation rates at Ivy League colleges, public universities, and community colleges

The graduation rates at the top 15 East Coast colleges also follow the trend that has been established thus far in the other comparisons carried out in this article. That is, the graduation rates for these colleges tend to fall in between the rates for community colleges on the low end and Ivy League schools on the high end. Here is a comparison of the numbers for a selected college from each of these three categories.

Graduation rate by type of college Source: USDE

Graduation rates for the top 15 East Coast colleges are typically higher than community college graduation rates but lower than Ivy League college graduation rates. The chart below compares the graduation rate at the University of Connecticut – a top 15 East Coast college – with the graduation rate at Yale and LaGuardia.

In this comparison, the selected top 15 college has a graduation rate that is quite high but not as high as the rate of the selected Ivy League school, but also very much higher than the rate for the selected community college.

A closer look at graduation rates

These numbers can be explained through the consideration of three main points.

  1. Many students may just “dabble” in community colleges, taking one course here and there or experimenting with what they would like to learn. All of these students would be counted when calculating the graduation rate, which helps explain the low numbers.
  2. Students who go to Ivy League schools tend to be highly motivated and, barring some kind of personal crisis, would be extremely unlikely to drop out without successfully completing their degree programs. This helps explain the high numbers.
  3. Students at the top 15 East Coast colleges are motivated enough to seek out a good school and advance their own lives, but perhaps not wealthy and/or motivated enough to insist on going to an Ivy League school. This helps explain the high but intermediate numbers.

How the top 15 East Coast colleges stack up

The information presented above in this article probably gives a good sense of how the top 15 East Coast colleges stand in relation to each other across various relevant metrics. It may be useful to you, though, to see some of rankings in summary form. So, the article will now present the top 3 out of the top 15 colleges regarding the following 5 metrics: GPA, gender diversity, racial diversity, tuition, and football.

Relative strengths of the top 15 East Coast colleges Source: CBS

Each of the top 15 East Coast colleges have their strengths. The table below shows the colleges with the highest average GPA, the most gender diversity, the most racial diversity, the lowest tuition, and the highest 2016 football rankings.

Highest average GPA
A higher rank indicates a higher average GPA.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Virginia
  • College of William and Mary
Most gender diverse
A higher rank indicates a greater number of female students.
  • Towson University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • College of William and Mary
Most racially diversei
A higher rank indicates a greater number of minority students.
  • Baruch College
  • Rutgers University
  • College of William and Mary
Lowest tuition
A higher rank indicates lower tuition.
  • Baruch College
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Towson University
Highest 2016 football rankings
The rankings below follow the official 2016 college football rankings.
  • Clemson University (2016 champion)
  • Pennsylvania State University (ranked 7th)
  • University of North Carolina (ranked 43rd)

The top 15 East Coast colleges offer more bang for under 25,000 bucks

This article should by now have covered everything you would want to know about the top 15 East Coast colleges under $25K/year. As you move forward with your academic career, there are four key points that you should take with you from this article.

  1. The top 15 colleges listed here provide you with an opportunity to get a great college education, even if you are not financially or academically able to attend an Ivy League school such as Yale or Harvard.
  2. These top colleges are generally public institutions, which means that they offer huge tuition breaks for in-state students. While scholarships and other forms of financial aid are often possible, this is a point that you may want to consider when thinking about your options.
  3. There is probably nothing “inherently” superior about an Ivy League school relative to a great public university. Rather, it would seem that the prestige of the Ivy League schools is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, as opposed to a matter of objective advantage.
  4. This article has only considered East Coast colleges. There are many other colleges around the nation, including the University of Texas in the South and the University of Michigan in the Midwest, and the University of California in the West, about which very similar things could be said as have been said about the top 15 colleges in this article.

We hope this article has been valuable to you, and that it has helped you think more clearly about the possibilities open to you for your academic future.

Works Cited

Clemson University. “Welcome to Student Financial Aid.” Author, 2017. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.

CollegeBoard. Trends in Student Aid 2015. Author, 2015. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.

Forbes, Moira. “Does a Diploma from an Ivy League School Still Matter?” Forbes. 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

Institute for College Access and Success. “Quick Facts about Student Debt.” Author, 2014. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

Lohman, Judith. “Residency Requirements for In-State Tuition in Connecticut and Selected States.” Connecticut General Assembly, 28 Feb. 2000.

National Merit Scholarship Corporation. “Mission.” Author, 2017. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.

Quinton, Sophie. “The Student Debt Crisis at State Community Colleges.” Pew Charitable Trusts, 10 May 2016. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

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Stanger, Melissa, and Emmy Martin. “The 25 Best Colleges in America under $25,000 a Year.”

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