THE BEST VALUE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN INDIANA

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By Iris Stone

Whether you’re a born Midwesterner or are looking for a change in pace from coastal life, Indiana has a lot to offer potential college students. Universities like Purdue, Notre Dame, and IU Bloomington take center stage thanks to their prestigious reputations, and in fact many Indiana colleges enjoy top positions on national rankings. But this state is also full of smaller schools – both public and private – that offer exciting alternatives for students of all tastes. Religious colleges, engineering specialty schools, close-knit campuses – Indiana has it all.

Of course, when it comes to “having it all,” it’s important to consider the one factor that can trump all else: cost. Even the best schools in the world can’t offer much if their tuition makes them inaccessible to the average student. That was the motivation for this ranking: to combine traditional measures of college quality (like selectivity and graduation rate, for example) with an honest assessment of affordability.

For flexible online programs, see our ranking of best value online colleges in Indiana.

Our Ranking Methodology:

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 81 to 157, 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 Indiana.


Rank School Location
1 Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
2 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN
3 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN
4 Goshen College Goshen, IN
5 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute, IN
6 DePauw University Greencastle, IN
7 Purdue University Northwest Hammond, IN
8 Ball State University Muncie, IN
9 Wabash College Crawfordsville, IN
10 Hanover College Hanover, IN

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  1. Purdue University-Main Campus
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Purdue University has a reputation as a top-notch school and boasts a long list of awards to support its enviable stature. This is in part due to Purdue's staunch commitment to academic excellence, which has cultivated a campus environment that is both nurturing and intellectually challenging. The university also prioritizes freedom of expression, and supportive professors make every effort to let students speak their minds. This open atmosphere also facilitates free inquiry and discussion in the classroom, which is yet another way Purdue academics trump the competition. And because students from any background feel free to share their views without fear, this top Indiana college has become a leader in international student enrollment and diversity on campus.
    Net Price: $13,081/yr
    Score: 157.46

  2. University of Notre Dame
    Location

    Notre Dame, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Notre Dame has plenty to boast about, from its tradition of academic excellence to its strong athletics program that draws fans from across the nation. Not to mention that its 96% graduation rate is the highest among the top Indiana colleges. More than 80% of the school's 8,000 undergraduates opt to live on campus - a not-so-surprising choice considering the location's natural beauty and stately, modern buildings. In fact, its architecture college is one of the university's biggest strengths. Acclaimed worldwide, the program regularly produces highly successful graduates, and its annual Driehaus Architecture Prize is sought-after across the globe.
    Net Price: $27,025/yr
    Score: 150.10

  3. Indiana University-Bloomington
    Location

    Bloomington, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Indiana University at Bloomington describes itself as an exemplar of traditional American higher education, but that doesn't mean that it's stagnant. In fact, the university has a history of progressive ideas to match its academic achievements. Herman B. Wells, the university's president and chancellor for much of the 20th century, guided the school to high esteem while championing the rights of African American students and supporting the controversial but important research of the Kinsey Institute. The university has educated many who went on to great success, such as journalist Ernie Pyle and Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom. Indiana University also houses renowned music and fine arts programs, all while remaining one of the most affordable colleges in Indiana.
    Net Price: $11,573/yr
    Score: 136.25

  4. Goshen College
    Location

    Goshen, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Goshen College's acceptance rate is one of the lowest among top colleges in Indiana, at 54%, but those who make the cut are likely to feel their hard work has been rewarded. The student to faculty ratio at Goshen is just 10 to 1, and most classes have fewer than 25 students, making it easy to get to know both peers and instructors. Goshen's welcoming community helps students of diverse faiths feel at home and supports social justice. Eco-conscious and nature-loving students will be especially pleased with the campus's work on sustainability and conservation, which includes a 1,189-acre environmental center. Goshen also encourages students to venture out into the world beyond campus, and as a result a full 80% take advantage of the school's active study abroad program.
    Net Price: $19,675/yr
    Score: 127.34

  5. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
    Location

    Terre Haute, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology benefit from both a low student to faculty ratio while they're in school (13 staff for every one student) and a high job placement rate once they've graduated. The school puts a heavy emphasis on hands-on education and promotes practical experience as a must-have for any major. This approach is one reason why 90% of Rose-Hulman students have already secured a job by the time they graduate - and enjoy an average salary of $66,940! Many consider Rose-Hulman to be one of the best universities in Indiana - and the nation, for that matter - and its undergraduate engineering program deserves special praise. The school's classes put an emphasis on more than just technical skills, teaching students to work as a team to solve problems.
    Net Price: $38,429/yr
    Score: 126.65

  6. DePauw University
    Location

    Greencastle, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With traditions and landmarks that stretch back more than 100 years, DePauw University connects its storied history to ongoing innovation. DePaul University is home to the nation's oldest sorority, Phi Beta Kappa, as well as the original Sigma Delta Chi fraternity, which has since evolved into the Society of Professional Journalists. The School of Music here was also one of the nation's first. Far from being stuck in the past, DePauw remains committed to its community through its pioneering efforts to reach carbon neutrality. DePauw is still one of the best universities in Indiana after all these years, pairing a selective 57% acceptance rate with a high 80% graduation rate.
    Net Price: $29,523/yr
    Score: 125.35

  7. Purdue University Northwest
    Location

    Hammond, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located just 25 miles from Chicago, Purdue University Northwest offers a tree-lined 167-acre neighborhood campus, putting natural serenity and a major American city within a short drive of each other. And despite its close proximity to the big city, many students find that campus life is equally as exciting. Just ask the 750 students who reside in the school's on site apartment-style dorms - which feature private bedrooms and quick access to Purdue's many popular events and activities. Getting around campus couldn't be easier, thanks to the ample bike paths and secure bike racks. This cheap Indiana college is also home to a highly diverse student body, with the highest proportion of Hispanic students at any Indiana college and more than 600 international students.
    Net Price: $10,908/yr
    Score: 122.43

  8. Ball State University
    Location

    Muncie, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Ball State University takes students beyond the normal classroom experience by offering plenty of opportunities for experiential learning. Performing arts majors participate in talent showcases and entrepreneurship students pitch their business plans to experts in their field. Students at this cheap college in Indiana get the chance to help improve their state even before graduating by taking on research projects and working with members of the community while earning their degrees. Thanks to its hands-on approach, Ball State is considered one of the best colleges in the Midwest, earning national acclaim for its architecture, telecommunications, and education programs.
    Net Price: $12,804/yr
    Score: 122.10

  9. Wabash College
    Location

    Crawfordsville, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    As one of the three remaining all-male liberal arts colleges in the country, Wabash College prides itself on teaching men to become valuable members of their community. The school emphasizes the merits of personal responsibility and service by maintaining a self-directed environment meant to foster growth and discipline. Situated on a beautiful campus in west Indiana, Wabash students are free to find their own path with the full support of their school. Wabash College receives one of the largest per-student endowments in the nation and remains one of the more affordable colleges in Indiana, thanks to a generous financial aid package that supports an incredible 90% of students.
    Net Price: $22,883/yr
    Score: 121.97

  10. Hanover College
    Location

    Hanover, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Hanover College is the oldest private college in Indiana, and it's built a respected and innovative academic program throughout its history. Nearby Madison, Indiana, is home to the state's largest historic district — and the largest National Historic Landmark in the country — which spans 133 blocks on the National Register of Historic Places. Students can explore this historic town and the natural beauty of the surrounding area while studying, and their prospects look great after graduation, too. 98% of students land a job or start an advanced degree program shortly after graduating, proving that Hanover is undoubtedly one of the best colleges in Indiana when it comes to alumni success.
    Net Price: $22,046/yr
    Score: 116.95

Sources:
College Navigator
Pay Scale

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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