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2021 Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina

50 Colleges
$23,469 Avg Cost*
4.3 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

When pursuing a degree in today's world, there are many different options to choose from. College Factual has developed its Best Value North Carolina Schools ranking as one tool you can use to help make this decision.

Our analysis looked at 50 schools to determine which ones were the best for overall value in North Carolina. Quality is an important component in this ranking, so it is not just naming the schools with the cheapest price tag. Instead, it is identifying those institutions that offer the most value when taking their educational quality into consideration. Thus, one college may rank better than another, but the second school could have a lower average cost.

Find out more about 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 in North Carolina

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Our analysis found University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to be the best school for overall value in North Carolina in this year’s ranking. Chapel Hill, North Carolina is the setting for this large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 6,076 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UNC Chapel Hill about 4.1 years to graduate, and it costs about $15,202 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $62,176 to get a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 96%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, UNC Chapel Hill is ranked #4 for overall quality in North Carolina.

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#2

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend University of North Carolina School of the Arts. The school came in at #2 in North Carolina on this year’s best value ranking. 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 the average student at UNCSA about 4.0 years to graduate, and it costs about $15,978 per year to attend the school. 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 UNCSA is $64,711. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, UNCSA also did well on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#3

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend North Carolina State University. The school came in at #3 in North Carolina on this year’s best value ranking. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, the large public school handed out 5,953 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at NC State is 4.4 years, and it costs about $18,807 per year to attend the school. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from NC State is $82,375. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The low student loan default rate of 2.8% 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%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, NC State also did well on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#4

Appalachian State University

Boone, North Carolina

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Appalachian State University helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in North Carolina. Appalachian State is a public institution located in Boone, North Carolina. The school has a fairly large population, and 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 is around $16,001. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Appalachian State is $68,964. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The low student loan default rate of 3.6% 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%. 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

Out of the 50 schools in North Carolina that were part of this year’s ranking, East Carolina University landed the #5 spot on the list. ECU is a public institution located in Greenville, North Carolina. The school has a large population, and it awarded 5,140 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at ECU about 4.4 years to graduate, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $18,413. This means that the average student pays around $81,754 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. Located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, the fairly large public school handed out 2,288 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At WCU, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $14,512. 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 $63,708. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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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. UNC Greensboro is located in Greensboro, North Carolina and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 3,512 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at UNC Greensboro about 4.5 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $14,951. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the UNC Greensboro is $66,831. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#8

University of North Carolina at Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Asheville came in at #8 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina ranking. Asheville, North Carolina is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 874 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UNCA about 4.3 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $16,346. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UNCA is $70,615. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#9

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Wilmington, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Wilmington did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #9. UNCW is a fairly large public school situated in Wilmington, North Carolina. It awarded 3,954 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UNCW about 4.3 years to graduate, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $22,211. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UNCW is $95,507. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

With a freshman retention rate of 87%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. UNCW excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 20% of all schools on our Best Colleges in North Carolina list.

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#10

North Carolina A & T State University

Greensboro, North Carolina

North Carolina A & T State University landed the #10 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. NC A&T is a public institution located in Greensboro, North Carolina. The school has a fairly large population, and it awarded 1,686 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at NC A&T graduates in less than 4.6 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $12,171. 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 NC A&T is $56,473. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#11

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Charlotte ranked #11 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. UNC Charlotte is a large public school situated in Charlotte, North Carolina. It awarded 5,974 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at UNC Charlotte is 4.5 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $21,508. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from UNC Charlotte is about $97,431. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#12

Winston - Salem State University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston - Salem State University came in at #12 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina ranking. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the medium-sized public school handed out 1,026 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At WSSU, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.6 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $14,082. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from WSSU is about $64,777. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#13

North Carolina Central University

Durham, North Carolina

North Carolina Central University came in at #13 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina ranking. North Carolina Central University is located in Durham, North Carolina and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,145 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at North Carolina Central University is 4.7 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $17,401. This means that the average student pays around $80,915 to get a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Central University. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#14

Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Elizabeth City State University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #14. Located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the small public school 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 $5,541. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from ECSU be around $25,876. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#15

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Pembroke landed the #15 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. UNCP is located in Pembroke, North Carolina and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 990 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.6 years for the average student at UNCP to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $12,285. 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 UNCP is $56,142. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#16

Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Fayetteville State University came in at #16 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina ranking. Located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the medium-sized public school handed out 1,017 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Fayetteville State University, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.7 years, and it costs about $12,673 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $59,183 to get a bachelor’s degree from Fayetteville State University. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#17

Davidson College

Davidson, North Carolina

Davidson College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #17. Davidson is a private not-for-profit institution located in Davidson, North Carolina. The school has a small population, 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 on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $41,228. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Davidson be around $164,912. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

With a student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1, it’s easy to see that the school is committed to helping their undergraduates succeed. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, Davidson is ranked #2 for overall quality in North Carolina.

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#18

Salem College

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Salem College landed the #18 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. Winston-Salem, North Carolina is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 217 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Salem about 4.0 years to graduate, and it costs about $28,153 per year to attend the school. 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 Salem is $113,738. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#19

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina

Elon University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #19. Elon is located in Elon, North Carolina and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,666 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.1 years for the average student at Elon to complete their degree, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $44,668. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Elon is $181,352. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 0.9% 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%. Elon also made our Best Colleges in North Carolina list, coming in at #5.

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#20

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Duke University ranked #20 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. Duke is a fairly large private not-for-profit school situated in Durham, North Carolina. It awarded 2,303 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Duke is 4.1 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $51,473. 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 Duke is $211,039. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 97%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Duke also took the #1 spot in our Best Colleges in North Carolina rankings.

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#21

Meredith College

Raleigh, North Carolina

With a ranking of #21, Meredith College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and it awarded 484 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Meredith, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $31,671. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Meredith is $130,168. 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 4.8%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#22

Catawba College

Salisbury, North Carolina

Catawba College landed the #22 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking. Catawba College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Salisbury, North Carolina that handed out 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 $24,928. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Catawba is $103,451. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#23

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wake Forest University ranked #23 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. This medium-sized private not-for-profit school is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and it awarded 1,431 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Wake Forest University about 4.0 years to graduate, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $56,976. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University is $230,753. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The low student loan default rate of 1.4% 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%. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, Wake Forest University is ranked #3 for overall quality in North Carolina.

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#24

Wingate University

Wingate, North Carolina

Wingate University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #24. Wingate University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Wingate, North Carolina that handed out 517 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Wingate about 4.2 years to graduate, and it costs about $26,345 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Wingate be around $111,703. 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 4.4%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#25

Queens University of Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

With a ranking of #25, Queens University of Charlotte did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in North Carolina list. Charlotte, North Carolina is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 400 students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at Queens to complete their degree, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $33,195. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Queens is $137,759. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.4%, 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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