If you live in Arizona, you probably aren't surprised that UA lands squarely at the top of this ranking. The university's low net price and solid graduation rate set students up for long-term success, and in fact its 20-year net ROI of $388,000 is one of the highest in the state. The University of Arizona also has a habit for collecting top rankings, some of them surprising! For example, it was the first school in the world to open a laboratory just for tree ring research, and it claims more than half of all near-earth asteroid and comet discoveries (all thanks to the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory). But what really makes UA #1 is that despite its breadth of resources and reputation for excellence, the school still manages to maintain its status as one of the most affordable colleges in Arizona.
By Iris Stone
Arizona might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think about great universities, and admittedly Arizona doesn’t have quite the same quantity of schools as a populous state like California or Texas. Nonetheless, there are plenty of universities in this state that deserve your attention, from large research institutions like the University of Arizona to quirky independent schools like Prescott College.
Arizona also comes out on top in measures of affordability – its ASU and UA state school systems are both known for their low tuition rates and financial inclusivity. But this ranking is about much more than cost. Using a careful methodology that considers multiple points of appeal, we’ve produced a list of the top Arizona colleges that will appeal to brainiacs and the budget-conscious alike. You might also want to check out our ranking of the Top Affordable Online Schools in Arizona.
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Top 9 Colleges and Universities in Arizona
Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools
At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.
We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Metric Data Used Percentage Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25% Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35% Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15% Program Offerings Number of program options 10% Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.
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Factors Considered When Ranking Schools
Graduation Rate: This indicator refers to the percentage of students who complete their degree within 150% of normal time (six years for a typical four-year degree program). Schools that perform well in this area have a track record of keeping students engaged and successful for their entire time on campus. We weighted this category 30% of the total and retrieved the information from College Navigator.
Net Price: In order to make sure that cost was still a factor in the ranking, we also considered overall net price as an indicator. Taken from data on College Navigator, “net price” is an approximate value that refers to the average amount of money a student could expect to pay each year after taking into account tuition, room and board, living expenses, scholarship awards, and financial aid packages. We weighted this category 25% of the total.
Acceptance Rate: Academically challenging, popular universities tend to be more selective and thus have a lower acceptance rate. In order to pinpoint those colleges that boast rigorous academics and also receive a large number of applications, we considered acceptance rate – the percentage of students out of the total number of applicants who receive an acceptance letter. We retrieved this information from College Navigator and weighted it 30% of the total.
20-Year Net Return on Investment: Taken from information on the website PayScale, this statistic provides a picture of how much students can expect to make after they graduate from a particular college. More specifically, the figure is calculated by taking the average income an alumnus will make over his or her first 20 years after graduation and subtracting the amount paid in tuition. Schools with a high ROI tend to be better at preparing their students for the job market. We weighted this category only 15% because data was not available for all colleges considered.
After adding all the points, we gave each university a final score out of 200. The schools below have scores ranging from 84 to 130, and each has something different to offer in terms of its cost, quality, and reputation. No one college is perfect (which is why the scores vary so much) but this ranking offers you a premier selection of universities to help get you started on your search for an education in Arizona.
About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career as a freelance writer and researcher. She now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Her work has included articles related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and careers.
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