TODAY   |  January 28, 2014

What’s the best college for your money?

Rob Franek, author of “The Princeton Review’s Best Value Colleges,” joined TODAY to chat about the newest list of the most affordable schools, including ones that are generous with financial aid.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> hope our kids will go to a good college, but there's one big concern, of course, the rise in costs of higher education .

>> absolutely. since 2009 , the princeton review has been compiling its analyst of the best value colleges with " usa today " and they're out with their 2014 list and today with us is rob, of course, the author of this. good to see you, rob.

>> good to be back. thank you.

>> i think we should rebrand this segment, schools i didn't get into. these are really good schools but also good values. let's start right in on the public colleges . uva, the university of virginia . great school.

>> well deserved, number three on our best colleges for our public school list. when we think about it from a financial aid perspective $22,100 minus that bringing it down to $4,600 for an in- state student.

>> and again, that's if you're from virginia.

>> correct. correct.

>> pricier out of state .

>> but it does give out scholarship for in state as well as out of state students.

>> next up, number two, new college out of sarasota, florida.

>> it's the honor college of the entire florida state system. only 800 kids, looks like a liberal arts school, but it has the price tag of a public school without question. $15,600 minus $9,800.

>> let's look at your number one best value public college goes to the university of north carolina at chaplain hill.

>> it's a fabulous school academically. one of the oldest public ivies , 1795 , but it is a smoking value when we think of it as $3,900 on average for an in- state student. and the survey, chaplain hill is my narnia. this is happy academically and financially.

>> great place.

>> and now we're going to switch to private colleges. number three, pennsylvania.

>> 15 miles outside centre city. small school , 1,500 kids, but $57,800. but here's the thing, lots of kids might cross them off their lists but it's tragically flawed because they're giving out $37,700 in free money bringing it down to that $20,000 mark.

>> now, number two on your list is a name i wouldn't expect to hear on this. harvard , with think it's hard to get into, very expensive and everything else that comes with harvard , but they do well with financial aid .

>> absolutely. 6,600 kids at harvard , all renaissance snunts, but $53,500 sticker price. but free money , $44,000 they're giving out bringing that right around that $9,500 mark.

>> i'm still stuck on the $53,000 without the add-ons to help you out.

>> and tuition, room and board, fees, books, the total cost of what you could expect to pay.

>> and number one, williams college in massachusetts. if you can get in.

>> if you can get in --

>> tougher to get.

>> it is 14% admit rate, acceptance rate. and when you think of that, it is a superlative place. 2,000 kids, huge college endowment, they put a lot toward aid, $59,000 sticker price, $39,600 in free aid bringing it right around the $19,000 mark. they have a dance on campus called the nbc.

>> do they?

>> you know what it stands for?

>> nothing but cutis.

>> i was thinking nothing but cash.

>> that's a good place to end. matt's got the purple cow .

>> got to have a sense of humor.

>> good.

>> a couple other surprises on the list, lesser known schools, truman state university came in at number nine.

>> the harvard of the midwest. it is such a value. really one of the gems of the 150 schools we put in best value colleges. not a lot of people know about it. great value academically and smoking value financially for in- state as well as out of state .

>> and cooper union also one of the things that caught your eye.

>> right down in little east village not far from where we are now. 800 kids, architecture, engineering program, half tuition scholarships for all the students coming in. great financial aid , think about merit based as well as academic based scholarships based on your high school test scores and gpa.

>> you've got to get it together.

>> what i've got to start doing, saving.

>> all right. thank you very much. and for more information,