50 Best Value Colleges And Universities In New York

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Best Value Schools In New York

By BVS Staff

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.

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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. You may also want to investigate your online options in New York by checking out our ranking of the Top Affordable Online Colleges in New York.

The 50 Top Affordable Colleges in New York Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we compiled a list of all the public and private (non-profit) postsecondary institutions located in New York. To start, this list included nearly 90 colleges and universities!

Ranking Factors

To determine the 50 best value schools, we ranked all the eligible colleges in four categories:

  • Acceptance Rate: Of all the applications the college receives in a given year, what percentage of students does it admit? (Weight: 30%)
  • Graduation Rate: What percentage of admitted undergrads earn their degree within 150% (e.g. six years for a four-year bachelor’s degree) of the expected time frame? (Weight: 30%)
  • Return on Investment (ROI): 20 years after graduation, how much more money can a graduate of the college expect to make than a high school graduate, after subtracting the four-year cost of their education? (Weight: 15%)
  • Net Price: What is the annual cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, and other fees, after subtracting the amount of the school’s average financial aid package? (Weight: 25%)

After weighing each category and adding up the points across the board, we assigned each university a final score, scaling the results so that the #1 school earned a solid 100 points. Want to know which colleges made our ranking of the 50 best schools in New York? Keep scrolling to learn more!

  1. United States Merchant Marine Academy
    Location

    Kings Point, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Smart investors know that no other accredited university in New York can rival the United States Merchant Marine Academy when it comes to cost-effectiveness. Because it is a federal service academy, there is no tuition charge to attend the USMMA (although there may be some fees for books or living expenses). But that doesn't mean it offers a free ride. In fact, USMMA students pay dearly in hard work and sweat as they toil through the most challenging academic program of any US service academy. And on the back end, graduates are expected to thank their government by serving in the armed forces - either five years of active duty or eight years in the reserves.

  2. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With its Ivy League status and its penchant for producing successful alumni, few would argue that Columbia isn't one of the best universities in New York, much less the world! Students who attend Columbia can have high expectations for their time on campus - and beyond. For starters, the university claims more than 80 Nobel laureates among its faculty, staff, and alumni, ensuring that majors of every discipline have access to brilliant minds that can help them forge their own paths to success. And succeed indeed; a full 95% of Columbia undergrads complete their degree on time.

  3. Cornell University
    Location

    Ithaca, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Of all the top universities in New York, few rival the name recognition and prestige of Cornell. The school boasts a bevy of famous alumni, from beloved science personality Bill Nye to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the Supreme Court. But for an indication of performance, look at the present, not the past (so they say). Of course, Cornell has plenty going for it in the here-and-now, too! The school is particularly active in research and supports an incredible range of academic institutes and labs. Chief areas of investment include medicine, engineering, and agriculture. In fact, there are nearly two-dozen research programs dedicated exclusively to food, farming, and nutrition studies!

  4. Hamilton College
    Location

    Clinton, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    To understand Hamilton College's appeal, you need only look at its promise to incoming students: "study what interests you, be accepted for who you are, and prepare to be the person you were meant to become." A progressive, liberal arts college, Hamilton is in the business of breaking down boundaries and encouraging its learners to think outside of the box. Its "open" curriculum gives students the unprecedented flexibility to pursue their interests, regardless of their major (or concentration, in Hamilton speak). This is also one of the best New York colleges for writing; despite the lack of official requirements, all undergrads must take at least three writing-intensive courses to bolster their communication skills.

  5. Webb Institute
    Location

    Glen Cove, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    If you're interested in engineering but have never heard of the Webb Institute, now is the time to learn. This innovative institution - inarguably one of the most unique on our top universities in New York ranking - offers just one academic degree program! That is, all Webb students receive a double major in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. So while it may cater to an extremely small crowd, Webb offers a perfect opportunity for future marine engineers who want to study in a focused environment among like-minded thinkers. What's more, Webb applicants can apply for a host of special scholarships that could reduce - or even eliminate - the cost of tuition.

  6. Colgate University
    Location

    Hamilton, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Now we depart the hustle and bustle of NYC and spend most of the remainder of the best colleges in New York ranking exploring some stellar schools in the suburbs. First up is Colgate, a small, highly-selective liberal arts college located in Hamilton (about an hour from Syracuse). One of this college's hallmark attributes is its innovative core curriculum, which emphasizes the "interdisciplinarity of knowledge" and the importance of intellectual engagement as students seek to apply "fresh perspectives" to "classic problems." And despite its focus on traditional liberal arts topics, Colgate has developed a number of unique majors - from Mathematical Systems Biology to Environmental Economics and LGBTQ Studies - that prepare undergrads for careers in cutting-edge fields.

  7. Barnard College
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    For more than 125 years, Barnard has offered women a top-notch education in the heart of New York City. With just 2,500 undergrads, this top college in NYC provides a rigorous education in an intimate setting. And thanks to Barnard's partnership with nearby Columbia University, you can enjoy the small-school experience while still accessing the vast resources of a larger institution. The two schools share libraries, courses, and even a joint athletic consortium, while still operating separately from an administrative and policy perspective. The partnership and Barnard's many other highlights seem to pay off: the school boasts an impressive 91% graduation rate.

  8. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Though it may not enjoy the same name recognition of some of its neighbors on this New York colleges ranking, CUNY Bernard M Baruch is every bit as deserving of its position in the top 10. In fact, in many ways, Baruch College epitomizes the concept of a "best value" school. With impressive stats across the board - including a 70% graduation rate and projected ROI north of $500k - this college offers its students a bright future for a fraction of the typical cost. The school also stands out for its emphasis on diversity. All told, Baruch Bearcats speak more than 110 languages and represent more than 170 countries around the world!

  9. Vassar College
    Location

    Poughkeepsie, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With fewer than 2,500 undergrads, Vassar is one of the smaller schools on our list. And yet, it's the perfect size for students who favor intimate, creative learning environments. Indeed, Vassar is known for its close-knit culture; 97% of students live on campus, as do more than 70% of the faculty! There are even "faculty families" that live in each residence hall, making it impossible for students not to develop personal relationships with their professors. Of all the accredited colleges in New York, Vassar also has one of the most scenic. Its 1,000-acre campus even includes two National Historic Landmarks!

  10. SUNY Binghamton
    Location

    Binghamton, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    If statistics mean anything (and we think they do) SUNY Binghamton is a place where happy students go to achieve their goals. In addition to an 80% graduation rate, the school also sports a 90% retention rate, indicating that the vast majority of first-year students enjoyed their experience on campus enough to go back the next year. But while the freshmen are planning their return trip, the seniors are getting ready for the next step - and nearly 1 in 5 love learning so much that they head straight to graduate school! So if you're looking for a place that will fuel your passions and prepare you for the future, SUNY Binghamton is one affordable New York college you should seriously consider.

Advertisement BestValueSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 50 top affordable universities in New York!

Sources:
IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator
PayScale.com

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