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2021 Best Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in North Carolina

50 Colleges
$19,108 Avg Cost (With Aid)*
4.3 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

Choosing which college to attend may be one of the most important decisions in your life. College Factual has developed its Best North Carolina Schools For The Money For Those Getting Aid ranking as one tool you can use to help make this decision.

We analyzed 50 colleges and universities to determine which were the best for overall value for the money with aid in North Carolina. It's important to note that this isn't just a listing of colleges and universities with the lowest sticker price. Instead, this ranking identifies schools that offer a high quality educational experience at a lower-than-expected price. Thus, one college may rank better than another, but the second school could have a lower average cost.

Get more details on our ranking methodology.

To calculate the average cost amount, we sum up the total expenses to attend a school - such as tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other living expenses - and then subtract the average financial aid award a student receives. So it is an approximation of how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket each year on average.

Customizing Your List

Since one ranking on its own is not enough to give you a complete understanding of your educational options, you can refine this list by location and field of study. We've also developed a number of other tools and rankings based on other factors. These other rankings highlight colleges that excel in other factors such as overall quality or diversity as well as schools that excel in serving different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

You can create your own custom comparison that focuses on the factors most important to you using our tool, College Combat. We encourage you to try it out and pit your favorite colleges and universities head to head!

Top Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in North Carolina

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Our 2021 rankings named University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the best school for overall value for the money with aid in North Carolina for students working on their bachelor’s degree. UNC Chapel Hill is a public institution located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The school has a large population, and it awarded 6,076 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UNC Chapel Hill about 4.1 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $7,198 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the UNC Chapel Hill is $29,440. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 96%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. UNC Chapel Hill not only placed well in our value rankings, but it is also #4 on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list.

Full University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Report

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#2

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

A rank of #2 on our Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list means North Carolina State University is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. North Carolina State University is a large public school located in Raleigh, North Carolina that handed out 5,953 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.4 years for the average student at NC State to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $14,162. This means that the average student pays around $62,030 to get a bachelor’s degree from NC State. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.8%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. NC State also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools in this category.

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#2

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at University of North Carolina School of the Arts helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in North Carolina. Winston-Salem, North Carolina is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 196 students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.0 years for the average student at UNCSA to complete their degree, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $13,013 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UNCSA is $52,703. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 91%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. In addition to its great value ranking, UNCSA is in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list.

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#4

Appalachian State University

Boone, North Carolina

A rank of #4 on our Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list means Appalachian State University is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Appalachian State is a fairly large public school situated in Boone, North Carolina. It awarded 4,172 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Appalachian State about 4.3 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $11,813. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State is about $50,914. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

With a freshman retention rate of 89%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. Appalachian State excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list.

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#5

East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at East Carolina University helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in North Carolina. ECU is located in Greenville, North Carolina and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 5,140 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

At ECU, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $14,593 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $64,793 to get a bachelor’s degree from ECU. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#6

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, North Carolina

Western Carolina University landed the #6 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. WCU is a public institution located in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The school has a fairly large population, and it awarded 2,288 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at WCU about 4.4 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $12,522. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from WCU is $54,972. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#7

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, North Carolina

With a ranking of #7, University of North Carolina at Greensboro did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, the large public school handed out 3,512 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At UNC Greensboro, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.5 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $11,763 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro is $52,581. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#8

University of North Carolina at Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

With a ranking of #8, University of North Carolina at Asheville did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. UNCA is located in Asheville, North Carolina and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 874 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

At UNCA, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.3 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $13,171 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UNCA be around $56,899. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#9

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Wilmington, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Wilmington landed the #9 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. Wilmington, North Carolina is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 3,954 students in 2018-2019.

The average student at UNCW graduates in less than 4.3 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $18,943. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UNCW is $81,455. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 87%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. In addition to its great value ranking, UNCW is in the top 20% of all schools on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list.

Full University of North Carolina at Wilmington Report

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#10

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Charlotte did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #10. University of North Carolina at Charlotte is a large public school located in Charlotte, North Carolina that handed out 5,974 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At UNC Charlotte, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.5 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $17,998 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from UNC Charlotte is $81,531. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#11

North Carolina A & T State University

Greensboro, North Carolina

North Carolina A & T State University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #11. Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, the fairly large public school awarded 1,686 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at NC A&T about 4.6 years to graduate, and it costs students who receive aid about $10,285 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from NC A&T be around $47,722. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

Full North Carolina A & T State University Report

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#12

Davidson College

Davidson, North Carolina

Davidson College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #12. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Davidson, North Carolina, and it awarded 560 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Davidson is 4.0 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $31,447. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Davidson be around $125,788. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The impressive student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1 means that students may have more opportunities to work more closely with their professors than they would at other schools. Davidson also took the #2 spot in our Best Colleges in North Carolina rankings.

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#13

Winston - Salem State University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston - Salem State University came in at #13 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina ranking. WSSU is a public institution located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 1,026 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at WSSU is 4.6 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $12,268 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from WSSU is $56,433. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#14

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

With a ranking of #14, Duke University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. This fairly large private not-for-profit school is located in Durham, North Carolina, and it awarded 2,303 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Duke graduates in less than 4.1 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $31,472 per year to attend the school. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Duke is $129,035. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 97%. Duke also made our Best Colleges in North Carolina list, coming in at #1.

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#15

North Carolina Central University

Durham, North Carolina

North Carolina Central University landed the #15 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. North Carolina Central University is a medium-sized public school located in Durham, North Carolina that handed out 1,145 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at North Carolina Central University graduates in less than 4.7 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $15,408 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $71,647 to get a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Central University. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#16

Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Elizabeth City State University landed the #16 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. Elizabeth City State University is a small public school located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina that handed out 226 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at ECSU graduates in less than 4.7 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $4,246 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $19,829 to get a bachelor’s degree from ECSU. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#17

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Pembroke landed the #17 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. This medium-sized public school is located in Pembroke, North Carolina, and it awarded 990 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UNCP about 4.6 years to graduate, and it costs students who receive aid about $10,482 per year to attend the school. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from UNCP is about $47,903. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#18

Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Fayetteville State University came in at #18 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina ranking. Fayetteville State University is a medium-sized public school situated in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It awarded 1,017 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Fayetteville State University is 4.7 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $10,176 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Fayetteville State University is $47,522. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#19

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wake Forest University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #19. Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,431 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at Wake Forest University about 4.0 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $38,885 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $157,484 to get a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.4%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Wake Forest University also made our Best Colleges in North Carolina list, coming in at #3.

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#20

Salem College

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Salem College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #20. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and it awarded 217 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.0 years for the average student at Salem to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $26,171. This means that the average student pays around $105,731 to get a bachelor’s degree from Salem. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.1%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

Full Salem College Report

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#21

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina

Elon University ranked #21 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. This medium-sized private not-for-profit school is located in Elon, North Carolina, and it awarded 1,666 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Elon is 4.1 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $38,314 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Elon is $155,555. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

With a freshman retention rate of 89%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. Elon did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #5 on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list.

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#22

Catawba College

Salisbury, North Carolina

Catawba College came in at #22 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina ranking. Catawba is a private not-for-profit institution located in Salisbury, North Carolina. The school has a small population, and it awarded 300 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Catawba, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $23,821 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Catawba is $98,857. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

Full Catawba College Report

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#23

Meredith College

Raleigh, North Carolina

Meredith College ranked #23 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. Meredith is a private not-for-profit institution located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The school has a small population, and it awarded 484 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.1 years for the average student at Meredith to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $30,796. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Meredith is about $126,572. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.8%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#24

Queens University of Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

With a ranking of #24, Queens University of Charlotte did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. Queens is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Charlotte, North Carolina. It awarded 400 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Queens about 4.2 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $30,125. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Queens is $125,019. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The low student loan default rate of 4.4% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#25

Campbell University

Buies Creek, North Carolina

Campbell University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #25. Campbell is a private not-for-profit institution located in Buies Creek, North Carolina. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 1,006 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Campbell, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.3 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $28,624. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Campbell is $122,797. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.6%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • For our state-specific rankings, we use in-state tuition to calculate average cost. For our national and regional rankings, we use a weighted average of in-state and non-resident tuition.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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