Best public liberal arts colleges best-colleges

Though most liberal arts schools are private, there are a handful quality public liberal arts schools as well. Find below how they compare based on a student's return on educational investment and median earnings.

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Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Degree premium: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state. This is called “Vs. state average” in school profiles below.

Ranking: The payback rate is divided by the degree premium (set as a percentage), the lower the number the higher the rank. (i.e. payback=1, degree premium 20% higher than state school median: 1/120% = .883.

Net cost
Earnings
Payback
Degree premium
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#5 in Liberal Arts

Virginia Military Institute

Lexington, Virginia

Admission rate: 60%

Grad rate: 78%

Net cost: $17,804

Payback: 1.9 Years

Earnings: $71,910

Vs. state average: + $28,926

Economic score: 1.16

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#23 in Liberal Arts

University of New Hampshire at Manchester

Manchester, New Hampshire

Admission rate: 86%

Grad rate: 62%

Net cost: $13,649

Payback: 2.0 Years

Earnings: $61,997

Vs. state average: + $2,460

Economic score: 1.87

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#29 in Liberal Arts

New College of Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Admission rate: 70%

Grad rate: 60%

Net cost: $8,516

Payback: 2.0 Years

Earnings: $43,994

Vs. state average: - $727

Economic score: 2.08

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#36 in Liberal Arts

Shepherd University

Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Admission rate: 98%

Grad rate: 50%

Net cost: $11,021

Payback: 2.1 Years

Earnings: $45,723

Vs. state average: - $1,351

Economic score: 2.19

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#46 in Liberal Arts

Charter Oak State College

New Britain, Connecticut

Admission rate: N/A

Grad rate: 58%

Net cost: $10,724

Payback: 1.9 Years

Earnings: $54,604

Vs. state average: - $14,956

Economic score: 2.44

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#59 in Liberal Arts

University of North Carolina at Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

Admission rate: 80%

Grad rate: 62%

Net cost: $12,061

Payback: 2.6 Years

Earnings: $42,027

Vs. state average: - $44

Economic score: 2.63

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#63 in Liberal Arts

St. Mary's College of Maryland

St. Mary's City, Maryland

Admission rate: 80%

Grad rate: 79%

Net cost: $19,369

Payback: 2.8 Years

Earnings: $55,342

Vs. state average: + $990

Economic score: 2.72

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#68 in Liberal Arts

University of Minnesota-Morris

Morris, Minnesota

Admission rate: 65%

Grad rate: 65%

Net cost: $11,412

Payback: 2.4 Years

Earnings: $47,373

Vs. state average: - $7,903

Economic score: 2.82

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#81 in Liberal Arts

The University of Virginia's College at Wise

Wise, Virginia

Admission rate: 83%

Grad rate: 53%

Net cost: $10,061

Payback: 2.9 Years

Earnings: $41,055

Vs. state average: - $1,929

Economic score: 3.06

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#129 in Liberal Arts

SUNY at Purchase College

Purchase, New York

Admission rate: 74%

Grad rate: 66%

Net cost: $18,326

Payback: 3.6 Years

Earnings: $45,289

Vs. state average: - $10,401

Economic score: 4.48

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#150 in Liberal Arts

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

North Adams, Massachusetts

Admission rate: 88%

Grad rate: 60%

Net cost: $16,861

Payback: 3.6 Years

Earnings: $47,107

Vs. state average: - $20,651

Economic score: 5.24

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#159 in Liberal Arts

Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Mansfield, Pennsylvania

Admission rate: 97%

Grad rate: 54%

Net cost: $19,065

Payback: 4.6 Years

Earnings: $42,931

Vs. state average: - $10,647

Economic score: 5.77

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#176 in Liberal Arts

Fort Lewis College

Durango, Colorado

Admission rate: 92%

Grad rate: 47%

Net cost: $16,274

Payback: 6.5 Years

Earnings: $38,083

Vs. state average: - $7,838

Economic score: 7.83

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#184 in Liberal Arts

University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg

Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Admission rate: 91%

Grad rate: 40%

Net cost: $17,823

Payback: 2.4 Years

Earnings: $57,961

Vs. state average: + $4,383

Economic score: 2.22

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#186 in Liberal Arts

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

Chickasha, Oklahoma

Admission rate: 36%

Grad rate: 41%

Net cost: $8,607

Payback: 3.1 Years

Earnings: $37,083

Vs. state average: - $10,410

Economic score: 4.01

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#187 in Liberal Arts

University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Kenosha, Wisconsin

Admission rate: 67%

Grad rate: 43%

Net cost: $11,327

Payback: 3.4 Years

Earnings: $43,186

Vs. state average: - $8,889

Economic score: 4.04

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#188 in Liberal Arts

University of South Carolina Beaufort

Bluffton, South Carolina

Admission rate: 67%

Grad rate: 38%

Net cost: $16,719

Payback: 3.9 Years

Earnings: $41,518

Vs. state average: - $2,767

Economic score: 4.15

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#190 in Liberal Arts

University of Wisconsin-Superior

Superior, Wisconsin

Admission rate: 87%

Grad rate: 43%

Net cost: $13,774

Payback: 3.7 Years

Earnings: $43,290

Vs. state average: - $8,785

Economic score: 4.40

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#191 in Liberal Arts

Louisiana State University-Alexandria

Alexandria, Louisiana

Admission rate: 64%

Grad rate: 31%

Net cost: $8,413

Payback: 3.7 Years

Earnings: $36,241

Vs. state average: - $9,701

Economic score: 4.72

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#193 in Liberal Arts

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Cheyney, Pennsylvania

Admission rate: N/A

Grad rate: 24%

Net cost: $7,656

Payback: 3.7 Years

Earnings: $34,747

Vs. state average: - $18,831

Economic score: 5.70

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