50 Best Value Colleges and Universities in New York 2015

By Iris Stone
August 2015

When most people think of New York, they think of New York City – specifically all the tourist attractions, cultural events, and art venues the city has to offer. But what many people don’t realize is that New York is home to some of the best value colleges available in the United States. From top private schools like Columbia and Cornell to the many top quality public school choices within the CUNY and SUNY systems, New York has no shortage of universities worth considering.

The best part about colleges in New York is that there’s something for everyone. You’ll find options for artists and musicians, aspiring engineers and scientists, top academics, talented athletes, and everyone in between. There are also options to suit every size wallet, from those who seek every last bell and whistle to those who need to stick to a budget. This ranking will give you the best of both worlds – a list combining the most affordable colleges with the best quality that money can buy.

Methodology

To determine the top 50 schools, we considered four essential indicators:

Graduation Rate: This figure represents the percentage of students who receive their diploma within 150% of “normal time,” which would be six years or fewer for a traditional four-year program. We acquired this data from College Navigator and weighted this category 30% of the total.

Net Price: In order to make sure we represented affordable schools, we included net price as 25% of the total score. Unlike simple tuition, this figure calculates a more accurate annual cost for the average student, taking into account scholarships and financial aid, miscellaneous fees, and even living expenses – and yes, of course tuition. We retrieved this information from College Navigator.

Acceptance Rate: A school’s acceptance rate is based on the number of students it admits out of the total number of applications it receives. Schools with a small acceptance rate are more selective, which can be an indicator of academic quality, reputation, and popularity. We found this information on College Navigator as well and weighted it 30% of the total score.

20-Year Net Return on Investment: A college’s “return on investment” is an indication of how financially successful its graduates are. It is calculated by taking the average income for students in their first 20 years after graduation and subtracting the cost of tuition for four years. Universities with high ROIs are associated with better academics and more successful graduates. This information was gathered from the PayScale College ROI Report.

All in all, the maximum number of points a school could receive was 200. Not a single college earned a perfect score, but that’s to be expected because no school is perfect! That being said, these 50 schools earned the highest scores we awarded and feature an ideal balance of quality and affordability.


SUNY at Fredonia Best Value Colleges in New York

50. SUNY at Fredonia

Fredonia, New York

Website

As one of the most affordable colleges in New York, SUNY Fredonia offers a little something for everyone. As part of its mission to encourage scholarly pursuits, artistic expression, and community engagement in all its students, Fredonia provides a wide selection of activities on and off campus. Dozens of degree programs – in areas such as Applied Mathematics, Cooperative Engineering, Industrial Management, Music Therapy, and Sound Recording Technology – will keep you busy during class time, while more than a dozen athletic teams provide an fun pastime for players and spectators alike. And for students who prefer the arts scene, the Rockefeller Arts Center and the Marion Art Gallery support events year round.

Net Price: $15,756/yr
Total Score: 83.67

SUNY College of Technology at Alfred Best Value Colleges in New York

49. SUNY College of Technology at Alfred

Alfred, New York

Website

Second on our list is another State University of New York school – the College of Technology at Alfred, to be exact. Also called Alfred State, this top New York college is chockfull of great opportunities for students who are willing to seek them out. The school houses nearly two-dozen undergraduate programs in everything from Architectural Technology to Technology Management, with most degrees catering specifically to the needs of students interested in engineering, the health sciences, management, and tech. College-wide student organizations can help you learn more about your intended career or simply serve as a way to make new friends and find some new hobbies; students can join the comedy club team, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, or even learn to sword fight!

Net Price: $14,378/yr
Total Score: 84.12

University at Buffalo Best Value Colleges in New York

48. University at Buffalo

Buffalo, New York

Website

The University at Buffalo is a research-intensive university that takes its commitment to academic growth seriously. With a clear mission to impact the world, UB continues to grow as a flagship school within the SUNY system. Nearly 20,000 students choose Buffalo for their undergrad education, attracted to its established reputation, attractive range of degree options, and endless list of extracurricular programs. Students can take Discovery Seminars to meet interesting professors and learn about challenging topics in a small class environment or join the Leadership House, a living learning community for those with a shared interest service and team building. But that’s not all – the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA) supports unique opportunities for undergrads to do research alongside distinguished faculty, while 50+ study abroad programs whisk students all across the globe for unconventional learning experiences.

Net Price: $14,546/yr
Total Score: 84.64

Bard College Best Value Colleges New York

47. Bard College

Annandale-on-Hudson, New York

Website

Bard College was founded in 1860 to preserve the important value of a liberal education during the war. Today, approximately 2,000 undergraduates engage with different backgrounds, lifestyles, and viewpoints at Bard, where they can study in four divisions: Science, Mathematics, and Computing; Social Studies; Languages and Literature; and the Arts. This affordable New York college also has interdivisional programs and five-year degrees in Economics and Finance, and a five-year, dual-degree program combining music with another field. Additionally, every summer the Bard Music Festival explores the life and work of a single composer through orchestral and choral performances, panel discussions, and symposia. Committed to sustainability, Bard also has programs in Environmental Policy.

Net Price: $25,275/yr
Total Score: 84.85

Hobart William Smith College Best Value New York Colleges

46. Hobart William Smith Colleges

Geneva, New York

Website

Located on a vast 195-acre campus in the scenic Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, Hobart and William Smith Colleges offer all the resources of two universities for less than the price of one. All students can take classes freely at both schools, which offer a comprehensive range of liberal studies with dozens of degree programs in the arts and sciences, as well as robust pre-professional programs in pre-law, pre-business, and pre-med. 60% of students also opt to pursue their cultural education overseas through study abroad programs in nearly 50 locations around the world.

Net Price: $35,882/yr
Total Score: 85.4

Manhattan College Best Value Colleges New York

45. Manhattan College

Bronx, New York

Website

Among the top colleges in New York, Manhattan College is a private Catholic university that uses “Lasallian” (from Saint John La Salle, patron saint of teachers) principles to not only create independent thinkers and leaders, but also to help students get a high return on the their educational investment. Through an interdisciplinary emphasis on integrity, excellence, and reason alongside competitive tuition rates, MC has succeeded in establishing itself as 33rd nationally on PayScale.com’s 2015 ROI survey. While students prepare for promising careers with schools in Business, Engineering, Education and Health, Liberal Arts, and Natural Sciences, MC helps ensure academic success with robust tutoring, writing centers, and study groups in every discipline.
Net Price: $29,825/yr
Total Score: 85.61

SUNY Cortland Best Value Colleges New York

44. SUNY College at Cortland

Cortland, New York

Website

What defines SUNY Cortland? With regional ranking from the Princeton Review, national recognition as one of the greenest colleges in the country, and a robust athletic department with over 25 sports offerings and 100 national titles, it’s hard to pin down what makes Cortland one of the best colleges in New York. Maybe it’s their teaching education program—the largest in the East Coast—with a 99% assessment pass rate and dozens of certification options. Nevertheless, with 28 academic departments and 9 pre-professional programs for students to choose from, every student’s experience at SUNY Cortland is specific to their unique interests and passions.
Net Price: $16,466/yr
Total Score: 87.97

Clarkson University Best Value Colleges New York

43. Clarkson University

Pottsdam, New York

Website

With just under 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled and nearly 50 unique degree programs, Clarkson University offers an intimate, affordable education with the academic resources of a more formidable university. In fact, Clarkson is recognized internationally for its research and degree programs in Advanced Materials, Biotechnology, Environmental and Energy Sciences, Entrepreneurship, and Global Supply Chain Management. Outside of these challenging fields, Clarkson also encourages students to flex their social and creative muscles with student-run TV and radio stations, which feature sporting events, talk shows, games shows, and other programming.
Net Price: $28,303/yr
Total Score: 88.05

SUNY Oswego Best Value Colleges New York

42. SUNY College at Oswego

Oswego, New York

Website

With more than 100 available degree programs, including the only Software Engineering degree available in the SUNY system, SUNY College at Oswego is far more than just one of the most affordable colleges in New York. But as long as we’re on the subject, SUNY Oswego augments their already competitive tuition with $4 million in merit-based and $80 million in need-based financial aid, annually. Oswego’s Learning Program also makes it an attractive option for working students and parents, with online coursework, night classes, flexible scheduling, and extended/accelerated degree programs available.
Net Price: $15,784/yr
Total Score: 89.78

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Best Value Schools New York

41. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Syracuse, New York

Website

As the global climate crisis looms over the nations of the world, the study of environmental science has never been so essential. Thanks to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), an education at America’s premiere college for the study of ecological policy, management, and preservation is as affordable as it is important. Located just off the staggering natural laboratory of the Adirondacks, SUNY-ESF also combines resources with neighbor and juggernaut Syracuse University, where students can take classes, receive joint degrees, and even participate in clubs and other student organizations. All of this makes SUNY-ESF a top New York college, as evinced by their 30th place ranking among public national universities, according to US News.

Net Price: $18,251/yr
Total Score: 90.24

Maria College of Albany Best Value Colleges New York

40. Maria College of Albany

Albany, New York

Website

Located in the capitol city of New York, Maria College of Albany is a small college with big ambitions. There are just over 1,000 students at Maria, making it a great resource for students looking for personalized direction in their education. Degree emphasis at Maria is predominantly in the health sciences—nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.—which are also the most competitive and sought after programs in the college. Maria also offers students highly practical bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in paralegal studies, healthcare administration, and psychology. Owing to this pragmatic and intimate education strategy, 99% of Maria graduates reported finding employment or continuing their education after six months.

Net Price: $6,957/yr
Total Score: 91.39

Syracuse University Best Value Colleges New York

39. Syracuse University

Syracuse, New York

Website

Ranked 58th in the nation among undergraduate national universities by US News, Syracuse is unlike many others schools on this list. That said, if bigger is better, Syracuse is the best cheap New York college there is. An 80% six-year graduation rate, 15,000 undergraduate students, 20 NCAA Division I sporting teams, over a dozen art galleries and libraries in campus, over 200 majors and minors, and every club and student organization imaginable make Syracuse hard to take at just a glance. And if that’s not enough, Syracuse’s affiliation with their little neighbor, SUNY-ESF, allows students to pursue additional courses and degree offerings in environmental and natural sciences, design, engineering, policy, and management of natural resources.

Net Price: $29,621/yr
Total Score: 92.75

CUNY York College Best Value Colleges New York

38. CUNY York College

Jamaica, New York

Website

Located in the dense, bustling borough of Queens, NYC, CUNY York College is one of the top universities in New York. Over 8,000 students representing at least 50 countries and 37 languages make York College a highly diverse community united by a common thirst for knowledge and success. Students can select from over 40 degree programs in the liberal arts, ranging from Anthropology to Studio Art, in pursuit of their personal passion. York also features a robust student support services program, with free tutoring, academic advisement, career and personal counseling, computer resources, and workshops in essential success skills.

Net Price: $5,856/yr
Total Score: 93.32

Monroe College Best Value Colleges New York

37. Monroe College

Bronx, New York

Website

How do you earn the title of the “Most Affordable Private College In New York State” from US News? Low tuition doesn’t hurt, but how about Monroe’s $12 million dollar annual budget for scholarships and grants? That’s nearly $6,000 per student, before even considering federal aid! With debt off their minds, students can pursue the degree of their dreams, whether it be in the school of Allied Sciences, Business and Accounting, Education, Hospitality/Culinary, or even IT. This affordable New York college even offers two campuses to provide students with the best of both worlds: the peaceful suburbs of New Rochelle, or the hustle and bustle of the urban campus in the Fordham section of the Bronx.

Net Price: $12,104/yr
Total Score: 94.65

Marist College Best Value Schools New York

36. Marist College

Poughkeepsie, New York

Website

Located in the pastoral, historical Hudson River Valley, Marist College is one of the best New York colleges for the price—with a nearly 80% graduate rate, to boot. Consistently ranked among the best American colleges by US News and the Princeton Review, this liberal arts school features a traditional range of arts and science degree programs, alongside NCAA Division I athletics in over a dozen sports. Marist is also known for its unique partner with IBM, who utilizes the campus to test concepts and applications in education, business, and communications. Since installing a $10 million, state-of-the-art computer in 1988, IBM has kept Marist on the cutting edge of information technology, with cloud computing and other network resources that rival elite universities and even Fortune 500 companies around the world.

Net Price: $34,255/yr
Total Score: 94.85

CUNY-John-Jay College of Criminal Justice Best Value Schools New York

35. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

New York, New York

Website

When John Jay College was founded in 1964, it was the only liberal arts college in the country with a focus on criminal justice and forensics. To this day, JJC remains one of the best universities in New York to pursue a career in justice. After all, among 27 major and 40 minor programs, 41% of students pursue a Criminal Justice degree, 17% study Forensic Psychology, and 6% choose Criminology. Midtown Manhattan provides the perfect setting for students to gain insight and access into the sociological aspects of their studies, with a highly diverse student body largely comprised of people of color.

Net Price: $6,120/yr
Total Score: 96.96

SUNY Plattsburgh Best Value Colleges New York

34. SUNY College at Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh, NY

Website

Looking for an iconic, small town vibe at a cheap college in New York? Citing the lovely city of Plattsburgh, exceptional affordability, and recreational facilities, BestColleges.com has called SUNY College at Plattsburgh one of the best small town colleges in the nation. Located on a 256-acre campus in the eponymous cozy upstate town, SUNY Plattsburgh offers dozens of degrees to satisfy every curiosity and ambition. SUNY Plattsburgh also upstages every other cheap college in New York by augmenting the natural beauty of the Lake Champlain Valley with the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, a “museum without walls” that features over 4,600 contemporary and historical art pieces.

Net Price: $13,975/yr
Total Score: 97.31

Fordham University Best Value Schools New York

33. Fordham University

New York, New York

Website

Although it is no longer affiliated with the church, Fordham University offers a strong education in the Jesuit tradition. Through service learning, religious studies, and campus ministry, Fordham students seek God in the work as they develop their potential to become transformative leaders in their field. In addition to a comprehensive range of degree offerings in arts, sciences, and professional fields, Fordham is notable for its robust core curriculum of 17 courses in 9 subjects including math, language (modern or classical), and history. Fordham’s affiliation with other top universities in New York allows them to offer joint degree programs with Julliard, Columbia, Case Western, and more to advance the education of their students, over 80% of whom graduate within six years or less.

Net Price: $35,605/yr
Total Score: 98.03

Touro College Best Value Colleges New York

32. Touro College

Brooklyn, New York

Website

Named after Jewish community leaders Judah and Isaac Touro, this selective school (with only a 30% acceptance rate) was chartered in 1970 to “enrich the Jewish heritage and serve the larger American community.” But while the educational philosophy at Touro is founded on Jewish values and intellectual traditions, it is not exclusive to the Jewish faith. One of the best universities in New York for orthodox students, Touro embraces all faiths and ethnicities, and inculcates them in a curriculum that emphasizes writing and communication, research and critical thinking, and fluency in math and science. Whether students wish to study liberal arts, law, health sciences, technology, or business, they can be sure to receive a thorough education at Touro.

Net Price: $22,621/yr
Total Score: 98.23

SUNY Oneonta Best Value Colleges New York

31. SUNY Oneonta

Oneonta, New York

Website

The cozy, rustic vibe of Oneonta combined with the academic rigor typical of the SUNY system makes this university a standout among cheap colleges in New York. In a town of just 14,000 “nestled away in the hills of Central New York,” SUCO offers students 70 major and minor programs in the arts and sciences, including pre-professional and cooperative professional programs. SUCO also keeps students occupied with dozens of cultural, athletic, and outward-bound clubs alongside Greek life and student government and journalism. Not that they need it –Oneonta’s inviting community and lively entertainment offerings are the perfect complement to SUCO’s stimulating academics.

Net Price: $15,097/yr
Total Score: 99.49

United States Military Academy Best Value Colleges New York

30. United States Military Academy

West Point, New York

Website

At the United States Military Academy, undoubtedly among the best colleges in New York, students are not merely students – they are officers in training colloquially known as “cadets.” From a strict honor code to mandatory competitive sports, life at the USMA is entrenched in the values and traditions of the military. West Point cadets also receive best in class education in a comprehensive range of liberal arts and humanities, natural and health sciences, law, business, and more, all free of tuition in exchange for duty service obligation after graduation. As you can imagine, this makes West Point highly competitive; applicants must even receive a nomination from a Congressman or Delegate to even apply, and only 9% of such applicants receive admission to the academy.

Net Price: NA
Total Score: 100.19

SUNY Albany Best Value Colleges New York

29. SUNY at Albany

Albany, New York

Website

SUNY at Albany is a first-tier component of the State Universities of New York system, with over 17,000 students enrolled in over 170 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. With vast academic and extracurricular resources, including undergraduate research opportunities and over 600 study abroad programs, SUNY at Albany packs a tremendous value for an affordable New York college. Throw in NCAA Division I athletics with modern recreational facilities, a contemporary art museum, and the Performing Art Center on the uptown campus, and SUNY at Albany starts to sounds less like a school and more like its own city. Plus, SUNY at Albany is a great investment, with a 20-year net ROI of $328,200!

Net Price: $14,415/yr
Total Score: 100.58

CUNY Lehman Best Value Colleges New York

28. CUNY Lehman College

Bronx, New York

Website

At CUNY Lehman College, students get all the benefits of attending one of the top colleges in New York for a fraction of the price they would get anywhere else. Lehman is a senior college of the CUNY system, with over ten thousand undergraduate students spread across 51 courses of study. With overwhelming resources for research, student life, global outreach, and a competitive acceptance rate of only 29%, Lehman is a magnet for top-performing students who are looking to get the most out of their college experience. Lehman students who are even more ambitious can apply for the competitive Lehman Scholars Program, where they will be exempt from degree requirements and develop their own course of study under close faculty mentorship.

Net Price: $2,327/yr
Total Score: 103.39

SUNY Geneseo Best Value Colleges New York

27. SUNY College at Geneseo

Geneseo, New York

Website

Founded as a school for teachers, SUNY College, Geneseo combines a rich co-curricular life and a rigorous curriculum with transformational learning experiences to make it one of the premier public liberal arts colleges in America. With over 5,000 enrolled undergraduates and a student to faculty ratio of 19 to one, this cheap New York college offers 54 majors and multiple dual-degree programs. Located in a historic village just a short drive from Buffalo and Rochester, Geneseo also runs humanities courses in Europe every summer. What’s more, the university has western New York’s only pelletron particle accelerator, which is housed in the school’s $53 million Integrated Science Center. Special grants for undergrads allow many students to participate in research and present papers with faculty.

Net Price: $15,850/yr
Total Score: 104.25

SUNY Brooklyn Best Value Colleges New York

26. CUNY Brooklyn College

Brooklyn, New York

Website

Featuring classical, Georgian-style buildings, a lily pond, grassy quadrangles, and garden, Brooklyn College offers a pristine, relaxing environment that caters to the needs of its more than 14,000 undergraduates. With so many students, Brooklyn’s admissions criteria are becoming increasingly selective, and it now only admits about 35% of applicants. More than a dozen fraternities and sororities and 100+ clubs and organizations make this top college in New York a great choice for social students who want to take advantage of its broad range of community, cultural, ethnic, and religious, groups. Brooklyn College offers dozens of undergraduate degree programs in education and business; mathematics; natural, social, and behavioral sciences; the humanities; and the creative arts.

Net Price: $7,220/yr
Total Score: 104.37

SUNY Brockport Best Value Colleges New York

25. SUNY College at Brockport

Brockport, New York

Website

Located just 16 miles from downtown Rochester, Brockport’s campus encompasses 67 buildings on 464 acres. Students can explore the quaint shops and restaurants in the village of Brockport or get a sense of history along the nearby Erie Canal. Brockport, one of the top universities in New York, offers nearly 50 undergraduate majors and 26 areas of teacher certification to awaken the entrepreneur, the artist, the athlete, and the scholar. Brockport prioritizes student success—each student, each day—to advance scholarship and service to the community and society as a whole. Additionally, Brockport offers 120 programs to study abroad in 37 countries to help expand the possibilities for students thrive in creative, physical, and intellectual expression.

Net Price: $13,813/yr
Total Score: 104.44

SUNY Purchase Best Value Colleges New York

24. SUNY at Purchase College

Purchase, New York

Website

Purchase boasts a unique history, lying on 500 acres of land that once belonged to a Revolutionary War hero. Today, the college consists of 25 buildings and hosts 4,200 students each year, who travel from all across the country – and the world – to take advantage of Purchase’s educational offerings. One of the best colleges in New York, Purchase focuses on conservatory-based arts programs through the School of the Arts and the new School of Film, and traditional programs through the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The college’s founders put these two styles side by side to inspire an appreciation for both artistic and intellectual pursuits and talents in all Purchase students. Graduates include CEOs of international corporations, prominent research scientists, journalists, and academics, as well as Tony, Emmy, and Oscar Award winners.

Net Price: $17,325/yr
Total Score: 104.59

Farmingdale State College Best Value Colleges New York

23. Farmingdale State College

Farmingdale, New York

Website

With more than 8,000 students representing 18 countries, Farmingdale State is committed to diversity, service to the community, and excellence in research, learning, and scholarship. Farmingdale offers 37 degree programs and 400 overseas study programs in 50 countries. Despite this expansion into the world and the motivation of a spirit of inquiry, the college is rich in tradition. This includes the tolls of the campus carillon, a memorial oak dedicated to soldiers lost in World War I, and an annual garden festival. Students at this top New York college gain a foundation of skills and knowledge so that they may go out into the world and be successful problem solvers and imaginative, critical thinkers. And this type of career preparation pays off – the 20-year ROI for FSC tops off at nearly $345,000.

Net Price: $8,146/yr
Total Score: 106.18

SUNY New Paltz Best Value Colleges New York

22. State University of New York at New Paltz

New Paltz, New York

Website

Located in an historic village in the Hudson Valley, New Paltz offers easy access to biking, kayaking, hiking, and climbing, along with breathtaking views of the Shawangunk Mountains. Students can also spend their weekends getting lost in the maze of historic sites, specialty shops, restaurants and entertainment venues around town. And if that’s not enough, New Paltz is home to enough concerts, conferences, gallery shows, lectures and theatrical performances to keep you busy all year. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 15 to one and 143 programs in six schools, New Paltz is dedicated to the formation of a vibrant creative and intellectual public forum and remains one of the most affordable colleges in New York. All students received a core curriculum in the liberal arts coupled with majors in the sciences, the arts, liberal arts, or pre-professional fields.

Net Price: $13,750/yr
Total Score: 108.26

Union College Best Value Colleges New York

21. Union College

Schenectady, New York

Website

Union College is named in honor of the unified academic atmosphere its founders hoped to create by being open to all of the diverse cultural and religious groups in the region. Students can cultivate this creative and intellectual spark in the numerous academic buildings, labs, recital rooms, and studios across campus, as well as in the stately on-campus library and Union’s Minerva Houses. Every incoming student at Union, one of the best New York colleges, is assigned to one of seven Minerva Houses, which blend residential, academic, and social interests into one enriching living experience. Each House has its own student-run governing council and a budget to host social and academic events. This supportive atmosphere bodes well for students, and the college currently boasts an 86% six-year graduation rate.

Net Price: $33,826/yr
Total Score: 110.97

University of Rochester Best Value Colleges New York

20. University of Rochester

Rochester, New York

Website

The University of Rochester, one of the nation’s largest research universities, offers more than 200 majors while still retaining a very low faculty-to-student ratio of 10:1. With numerous award-winning programs in diverse subject areas such as business, music, and medicine – plus an 84% graduation rate – students receive a first-rate education and graduate prepared to excel in their fields. Rich in culture, art lovers will enjoy the top-notch collection of American art at the Memorial Art Gallery while music lovers the school’s award-winning a capella ensembles. Notable faculty and alumni include numerous Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Scholars, and Guggenheim Fellows.

Net Price: $32,996/yr
Total Score: 111.33

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Best Value Colleges New York

19. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, New York

Website

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently celebrated its 213th year, making it the oldest technological research university in the country. Overlooking the Hudson River, this 275-acre campus is in the center of New York’s Capital Region. Students at this diverse and culturally rich school hail from 43 states and countries spanning the globe. Rensselaer’s signature research areas include nanotechnology, energy and the environment, computer science and engineering, media arts, and biotechnology. These in-demand fields will put you in an ideal position to be financially successful after graduation, too – an RPI degree provides an average 20-year return on investment of over $680,000. Students can make lifelong friendships by joining one of the university’s 180 student clubs and can take a break from academics and research by cheering on the school’s lacrosse or ice hockey teams.

Net Price: $11,689/yr
Total Score: 115.56

New York University Best Value Colleges New York

18. New York University

New York, New York

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Founded more than 150 years ago, New York University has grown to be one of the largest private universities in the nation. NYU has remained selective, only admitting 35% of all applicants. As one of the best universities in New York, NYU is home to more than 40,000 students who hail from more than 133 foreign countries. The main campus in Greenwich Village is part of an eclectic, vibrant community that has attracted intellectuals and artists of all sorts over the years. Undergraduate students choose from among 10 university schools, including the College of Nursing and Silver School of Social Work, and the university’s challenging but supportive environment helps it sustain an 80% graduation rate.

Net Price: $35,543/yr
Total Score: 116.08

Julliard School Best Value Colleges New York

17. The Juilliard School

New York, New York

Website

Accepting only 8% of all applicants but boasting an 84% graduation rate, the Juilliard School is a world-renowned center for inspiring and teaching the most talented young artists from across the world. The school strives to develop students’ intellectual and artistic growth to help them grow not only as performers, but as influential citizens and advocates for the arts. This top New York college is located on the campus of the Lincoln Center and is just blocks from Columbus Circle, Central Park, and the myriad cultural possibilities across the city. Juilliard students in dance, drama, and music can work out at the Rose Fitness center and take advantage of numerous summer conferences to keep their skills sharp.

Net Price: $29,013/yr
Total Score: 117.13

CUNY City College Best Value Colleges New York

16. CUNY City College

New York, New York

Website

CUNY City College, one of the best colleges in New York, provides a diverse, highly regarded education and outstanding student resources. The university offers more than 50 undergraduate majors to a diverse student body that speaks more than 90 languages and represents more than 160 nationalities. Although there are plenty of reasons for students to stay at City College, those who do decide to transfer often gain admittance to such prestigious institutions as Stanford and Columbia. Along with a library that holds more than one million volumes, City College boasts cutting-edge laboratories and plentiful opportunities for research. Students also can enjoy dozens of student clubs and organizations, including the Asian Cultural Union, the CCNY Salsa-Mambo Club, and the National Society of Black Engineers.

Net Price: $7,125/yr
Total Score: 118.67

Skidmore College Best Value Colleges New York

15. Skidmore College

Saratoga Springs, New York

Website

Skidmore is one of the best New York colleges when it comes to creativity, individuality, and sustainability. The liberal arts school believes strongly that creative thought matters, and professors push students to think for themselves and take a new approach to traditional topics. All freshmen kick off their time at Skidmore with a special First Year Experience, and some even have the opportunity to go through this intensive, preparatory course in London! Academic options include Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Geoscience, and many others, plus a “self-determined” option that gives qualified students the chance to design their own major. Outside of the classroom, students and faculty alike make the environment their priority, and in fact 35% of the school’s heating and cooling needs comes from geothermal energy!

Net Price: $24,316/yr
Total Score: 119.52

CUNY Queens College Best Value Colleges New York

14. CUNY Queens College

Flushing, New York

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Gain access to one of the top cheap colleges in New York through Queens College, located in one of America’s most diverse counties. Many recognize Queens as one of the most affordable choices for higher education, and students receive plenty of benefits in exchange for a few tuition dollars. From an academic perspective, there is no shortage of opportunities to excel; multiple honors programs cater to the most promising business, liberal arts, and science students, while a Freshman Year Initiative brings new students together to share experiences and build a sense of community. You can also tap into the resources offered by Queens College’s numerous research institutes, such as the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, the Neuroscience Research Center, and the Schutzman Center for Entrepreneurship.

Net Price: $6,728/yr
Total Score: 122.77

Webb Institute Best Value Colleges New York

13. Webb Institute

Glen Cove, New York

Website

The Webb Institute is a specialty school that caters its curriculum specifically to engineering students. All students tackle the same coursework, which focuses on naval architecture, electrical engineering, ship design, and marine engineering. While intense, classes are also comprehensive and fun, and they give like-minded students the opportunity to bond over a mutual love of science, math, and the ocean. Webb graduates can speak confidently about their futures, as well; 91% of students earn their diplomas on time, and engineering is a field notable for its high starting salaries. In fact, Princeton Review featured the Webb Institute in its selection of “Colleges That Pay You Back.”

Net Price: $18,276/yr
Total Score: 123.14

CUNY Hunter College Best Value Colleges New York

12. CUNY Hunter College

New York, New York

Website

Hunter College is the largest branch of the CUNY system, supporting more than 20,000 students at a time (undergraduate and graduate students). It has also made a name for itself in affordability, and ranks as one of the best cheap New York colleges available. Historically, the college has catered to women and minorities, offering previously marginalized groups the opportunity to earn a valuable education. Today, Hunter welcomes a diverse crowd to campus each year, giving everyone an equal chance to benefit from its premier academics. You can major in anything from Ancient Greek to Urban Studies, or choose a pre-professional program in Business, Law, Health, Engineering, Social Work, or Nursing.

Net Price: $8,129/yr
Total Score: 123.4

Barnard College Best Value Colleges New York

11. Barnard College

New York, New York

Website

A small women’s college located in the heart of New York City, Barnard College serves as a haven for students who want to grow and learn without any distractions. Young women get the best of both worlds at this liberal arts retreat, which features small class sizes and a comfortable learning environment but with all the resources of Columbia University and the Big City just steps away. Barnard students land internships, attend art exhibitions, and find inspiration for their next big idea in the hustle and bustle of New York, and then return to campus to quietly pursue their degree in Film Studies, Science and Public Policy, Neuroscience and Behavior, Classics and Ancient Studies, or another one of more than a dozen degree options.

Net Price: $21,791/yr
Total Score: 127.6

Stony Brook University Best Value Colleges New York

10. Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, New York

Website

Although Stony Brook University is barely half a century old, it has accomplished a great deal in just a short time. The 1,000+ acre campus hugs the northern shore of Long Island, offering students a quiet place to learn that’s just a quick journey from the heart of Manhattan. It also sports a 8,300 seat stadium, a high-tech research and development park, and four business incubators. SBU has also quickly established itself as a preeminent research institution, managing the Brookhaven National Laboratory in collaboration with Stanford, the University of Chicago, Princeton, and the University of California. And as far as cheap colleges in New York go, Stony Brook hits the mark; its low net price keeps students out of debt and contributes to an average 20-year ROI of over $400,000.

Net Price: $13,352/yr
Total Score: 127.85

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art Best Value Colleges New York

9. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

New York, New York

Website

Cooper Union, founded in the 1800s by an inventor and philanthropist, offers programs focused primarily on engineering, architecture, and the arts. A selective, affordable college in New York (the acceptance rate hovers around 15% from year to year), Cooper is the ideal choice for students who want to put their imaginations to good use. The degree programs are intentionally more focused than at traditional schools, allowing students to fully immerse themselves in their passion. For example, the School of Architecture consists of just one five-year undergraduate program, while the School of Engineering focuses exclusively on Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and five targeted engineering tracks. Cooper’s approach does well for students, as the university maintains a graduation rate of nearly 85%.

Net Price: $17,453/yr
Total Score: 129.07

Fashion Institute of Technology Best Value Colleges New York

8. Fashion Institute of Technology

New York, New York

Website

The Fashion Institute of Technology, or “FIT,” immediately conjures up images of talent and potential in the fashion industry. Ambitious and imaginative students choose to attend this top university in New York because it’s “where creativity gets down to business.” Academic majors at FIT cover two main areas of study: business and tech, including Marketing, Entrepreneurship, International Trade, Fashion Business Management, Production Management, Computer Animation, and Advertising; and art and design, which encompasses such degrees as Fabric Styling, Illustration, Interior Design, Menswear, Photography, and Textile Development. Depending on your intended major, you’ll need to submit a portfolio to showcase your artistic abilities and creative vision.

Net Price: $10,216/yr
Total Score: 137.69

Vassar College Best Value Colleges New York

7. Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, New York

Website

Students choose Vassar College for its pristine campus, its selectivity, and its long history of excellence in education. Academic programs cover a wide selection of liberal arts topics, including Africana Studies, Cognitive Studies, Film, Religion, Urban Studies, and Victorian Studies. Student life values diversity and inclusion above all, and some of the most popular resources on campus include the ALANA Cultural Center, the LGBTQ Center, and the Women’s Center, all of which support engaging dialogues that bring people of different backgrounds together. What’s more, all freshmen students participate in the Vassar First Year, a series of events that welcomes newcomers and provides a forum for new collegiate residents to discuss the issues most important to their scholastic success and social enjoyment.

Net Price: $19,661/yr
Total Score: 130.53

SUNY Binghampton Best Value Colleges New York

6. SUNY at Binghamton

Binghamton, New York

Website

Binghamton is an elite university that is regularly ranked as one of the best schools in the Northeast – as well as one of the top colleges in New York. Students flock to Binghamton to take advantage of its intense academic culture, which fosters collaboration and innovation at every level of study. Impressed with their experience on campus and excited for the next step, more than 90% of freshmen return to Binghamton after their first year. The university also stands out for its commitment to sustainability, and it has even adopted an additional school motto: “Green is more than just our school color!” Students can join the Binghamton Food Co-op, participate in the Campus Climate Change project, or spend their weekends with Friends of the Nature Preserve, a group dedicated to habitat enhancement, trail upkeep, educational hikes, and general enjoyment of nature.

Net Price: $15,572/yr
Total Score: 134.26

Hamilton College Best Value Colleges New York

5. Hamilton College

Clinton, New York

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Hamilton College stays true to the traditional values of the liberal arts, which emphasize the ability to think critically and engage with others over the ability to memorize facts. Hamilton stands alone – even amongst liberal arts institutions – in its approach to education. Sporting an “open curriculum,” the college encourages students to study whatever they love. Faculty advisors will ensure that you get the credits you need and will graduate with a strong foundation in communication and critical thinking. This means that the degree programs – such as Cinema and Media Studies, Chemical Physics, Geoarchaeology, and World Politics – are highly customizable. And despite the school’s unorthodox approach, its graduates succeed, and then some. In fact, the six-year graduation rate is above 90%, while the 20-year net ROI is close to $450,000.

Net Price: $22,392/yr
Total Score: 145.78

Colgate University Best Value Colleges New York

4. Colgate University

Hamilton, New York

Website

A small liberal arts college, Colgate University is both highly selective and highly successful; it only admits about a quarter of applicants and more than 90% of its undergraduates secure a diploma within six years. Small class sizes and stimulating class discussions help students find their passion, whether it’s Astrogeophysics, Environmental Economics, Russian and Eurasian Studies, or Peace and Conflict Studies. This affordable New York college also offers minors in uncommon, interdisciplinary areas such as LGBTQ Studies, Applied Mathematics, Writing and Rhetoric, and Mathematical Systems Biology, giving students every opportunity to find an academic path that suits their diverse interests.

Net Price: $21,649/yr
Total Score: 146.49

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College Best Value Colleges New York

3. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

New York, New York

Website

Baruch College, one of the premier members of New York’s CUNY system, has a reputation that places it on the same level as Columbia, NYU, and many other top New York colleges. Not only is it in the top 15% of universities nationwide, but it also has the largest AASCB-accredited business school in the country and ranks as one of the most ethnically diverse colleges in the U.S. The 18,000 students who call Baruch home for the majority of the year hail from 170 countries and speak 110 languages, guaranteeing that BC students become culturally competent, globally engaged citizens. On that note, study abroad is an important part of the Baruch experience, and undergraduates from all three schools of study are invited to participate. You can even earn a “Global Student Certificate” through a program that leverages the resources of the city to train future businessmen and women to be international leaders.

Net Price: $8,151/yr
Total Score: 147.84

Cornell University Best Value College -New York

2. Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Website

Although you don’t have to “go Ivy” to ensure a quality college education, the students who are accepted into an Ivy League institution often enjoy a superior academic experience. Cornell is one such selective college and one of the best universities in New York, with a slim 14% acceptance rate and a 93% graduation rate. Although Cornell’s main campus is in Ithaca, you’ll find evidence of the university all across the state, from the Medical College in New York City to the Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. Add to this the school’s architectural studios in Rome; the Wolpe Center in Washington, D.C.; the Medical College in Qatar; and the marine lab in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Cornell quickly reveals itself as a global institution.

Net Price: $28,537/yr
Total Score: 152.84

Columbia University New York Best Value Colleges New York

1. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, New York

Website

Columbia University claims the distinct benefit of both being an Ivy League school and residing in one of the biggest cities on the planet. Columbia students can spend their days quietly studying on campus, furthering their studies one of dozens of subjects – including Biophysics, Environmental Chemistry, the History and Theory of Architecture, Modern Greek Studies, Neuroscience and Behavior, and Sustainable Development. After class is over, you can zip downtown to catch a play in the theatre district or intern with one of the world’s leaders in finance. As one of the best colleges in New York, Columbia also encourages students to participate in faculty research, and some can even earn funding to support their senior thesis. There are special opportunities for science majors as well, from volunteer and paid work in labs to prestigious summer fellowships.

Net Price: $20,838/yr
Total Score: 167.77

Sources:
College Navigator
PayScale ROI

About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates’ careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.