North Carolina's universities lead in affordability

February 2, 2014 

Amid all the turmoil of the last several years involving academic scandal and athletics, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has maintained a distinction, a No. 1 ranking, in an area that really matters.

The Princeton Review ranks it tops in the country in terms of being a “best value” in education. N.C. State University was fourth, and UNC-Asheville, UNC-Wilmington and Appalachian State also were mentioned as good value for what’s delivered. From the private side, to no one’s surprise in this state, Wake Forest, Duke and Davidson College ranked highly.

That UNC-CH can continue this distinction (a top ranking is almost predictable, for example, in the annual Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine) is a positive stroke for the university.

But let’s hope affluent trustees don’t use it as a taking-off point to advocate higher tuition and fees, in the name of not being too good a bargain. For one thing, that a university would remain accessible to people of all economic backgrounds is something of which to be proud. For another, for many families in North Carolina, and this goes back before the financial losses of the Great Recession, it’s still a strain to send a child to a public college.

As we have said before, the university ought, in fact, to be lowering tuition and fees. After all, North Carolina has a constitutional mandate that an education be “as close to free as practicable.”

There is no question, even among those who have rightly worried about the evidence of academic fraud and problems with men’s athletics, that UNC-Chapel Hill has been, is and will continue to be a top educational institution. That it’s a bargain is all the better.

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