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Video: Best value colleges of 2010

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    >> 7. your pc simplified.

    >>> go, team. and this morning on "simplify your life today," the best value colleges. financial aid season's kicking off this week as teens and their parents start to fill out those intimidating college applications. to make it easier, princeton review has teamed up with " usa today " to release its list of the top 100 colleges that offer the best value . rob frannick is senior vice president of " princeton review " and publisher of "paying for college without going broke." nice to see you.

    >> thanks for inviting me, matt.

    >> you polled potential students and found that 85% of them were going to need some form of financial aid . the recession has taken a real toll.

    >> it has, without question. and we see those sort of budget reductions overall from lots of college campuses. some are down 5%, 10% of their operating budget . hiring freezes on staff and faculty members . i think the good news is most schools are not channeling resources away from financial aid coffers.

    >> but again, the schools are hurting, too, so you've got to make sure you do your part to get the financial aid you so greatly need.

    >> you have it. students have to be active participants.

    >> can i just say those numbers again?

    >> of course.

    >> the average cost of a public school $15,000, of a private school $35,000, some going up to $45,000, $50,000. so, this is real important. these fatsa forms or financial aid forms, a lot of people find them intimidating, but they're crucial.

    >> the free application for student aid is dreaded, more dreaded than doing your taxes, but they're coachable. and my boong is a good line-by-line walk-through.

    >> before we get to your list of greatest value schools, things you want people to remember. number -- always apply for aid.

    >> yeah, that's a key understanding. a lot of parents are intimidated by the fasa form, they make too much money, they're not going to qualify for financial aid . it's a horrible mistake. there's billions of dollars in aid, federal, state, and certainly from the school.

    >> and another mistake, when you hear it's a high price tag college, don't ignore it because they may offer a lot of aid.

    >> you got it. one of the biggest mistake students and families are making is crossing an expensive school off of their list of consideration, but it's the wrong mistake -- it's certainly a mistake because they can get great aid from those schools that are expensive.

    >> be a strategic shopper. what's that mean?

    >> strategic shopper means focus on your high school gpa, know how powerful your transcript is, and certainly s.a.t. and a.c.t. scores. the combination of gpa qualifies them for academic merit.

    >> and do your homework, which always applies. let's get to your list. let's start with the top three best value public schools , and i'll start with number three. it's new college of florida . why did you like this one?

    >> new college of. if florida is a public honors college for florida . it's a little less than 800 students. it's a focus on independent study , but it's a love letter for financial aid . students less than $5,000 and quite a deal for out-of-state students.

    >> and hunter college in new york. why's it a good value?

    >> hunter college , part of the university of new york system, about $13,000 for out-of-state. a great deal of financial aid for those students and students are shamelessly profiting from internships and so on.

    >> shouldn't be shameless, by the way. the next one at number one surprised me because it's so hard to get into. that's university of virginia .

    >> university of virginia , and i'm glad you brought up how difficult it is to get in, but once you're in, the university makes a commitment to make sure that students are not worried about financial aid , because they can meet and do the near impossible meet and need 100%.

    >> all right. that's great. let's get to the private schools right now.

    >> yes.

    >> again, we're talking in the price tags now on average of about $35,000 a year. best value number three, wesleyan college .

    >> wesleyan college , a small school , a little over 600 students. it's an all-female institution in macon, georgia. 40% of the students are ethnic minorities, 20% of whom are international, but it's an awesome school. great interaction between students and faculty members and giving it about 95% of aid is met 100% at wesleyan.

    >> here's another head-turner. number two on this list is harvard .

    >> harvard . yeah, it's actually been a usual suspect on our best value colleg colleges.

    >> but a lot of people wouldn't assume that.

    >> because of the high sticker price, but they're giving out on average $35,000 worth of merit-based aid. so, once admitted, financial aid will not be a concern.

    >> our executive producer jim bell , harvard class of '89.

    >> excellent.

    >> number one best value private school is swarthmore college . that's in pennsylvania.

    >> it is, and this is its second time on our best value colleges list, and it's a wonderful school. renaissance students with wonderful faculty members , but doing the near impossible, which is making tuition affordable for students. the 100% of need is met for students admitted to swarthmore.

    >> just a couple honorable mentions, university of virginia you like, arizona state university you like, but most importantly, probably the most important thing we said, hopefully, in this segment is always apply for financial aid .

    >> without question.

    >> rob, thanks, we appreciate it very much.

    >> thank you.

updated 1/12/2010 10:13:50 AM ET 2010-01-12T15:13:50

The Princeton Review chose the 100 schools on its Best Value Colleges for 2010 list based on institutional data and student opinion surveys collected from more than 650 colleges and universities the company regards as the nation's academically best undergraduate institutions. The institutional data was collected from the fall of 2008 through fall of 2009.

The selection process took into account a wide range of data that included more than 30 factors in three areas: academics, cost of attendance, and financial aid. Academic factors included the quality of students the schools attract as measured by admissions credentials as well as how students rated their academic experiences. Cost of attendance factors included tuition, room and board and required fees. Financial aid factors included the average gift aid (grants and scholarships, or free money) awarded to students, the percentage of graduating students who took out loans to pay for school, and the average debt of those students. Also included was survey data on how satisfied students were with the financial aid packages they received.

Here, Princeton Review shares the top 10 private and public schools that made the cut.

1. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Penn.)

2. Harvard College (Cambridge, Mass.)

3. Wesleyan College (Macon, Ga.)

4. Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.)

5. Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

6. Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.)

7. Rice University (Houston, Texas)

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.)

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9. Amherst College (Amherst, Mass.)

10. Wellesley College (Wellesley, Mass.)

1. University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.)

2. City University of New York — Hunter College (New York, N.Y.)

3. New College of Florida (Sarasota, Fla.)

4. Florida State University (Tallahassee, Fla.)

5. University of Colorado (Boulder, Colo.)

6. State University of New York at Binghamton (Binghamton, N.Y.)

7. Univ. of Georgia (Athens, Ga.)

8. Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Va.)

9. Texas A & M University (College Station, Texas)

10. University of Oklahoma (Norman, Okla.)

To see the entire “Best Value Colleges for 2009” report and access a database that provides in-depth details about each school, click here and here.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints


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