Public Ivy Schools for 2022-23
The early fall has been the best time for me to announce my annual list of Public Ivy schools. This is one of my most-read posts.
I realize that some people may not like the phrase ‘Public Ivy’.
That term was conceived by Richard Moll, a former dean of admissions, to recognize schools that he believed to be the nation’s best public universities in 1985. In the book he covers the honors opportunities at his chosen schools, with the belief that they are “equal to an Ivy League education.”
Had he written that they were the equal of a well-endowed selective liberal arts college where classes are smaller and instruction more personal, I would not argue, nor would I write these posts. However, an Ivy League experience for a freshman or sophomore is more likely to be large lectures much like they would get at a larger state university, unless one chooses to go to Dartmouth, where less than one percent of all undergraduate classes have over 100 students.
A Public Ivy should not charge non-residents as much as private schools.
I like the University of Michigan. It was at the top of my own list when I was a high school junior, until I got my SAT scores. But the university estimates total costs of attendance of over $72,000 for a non-resident freshman or sophomore and over $76,000 for a junior or senior. Michigan gets about half of a freshman class from out of state, and asks most of them to pay close to Ivy League costs to be there. The same is true for the University of Virginia, another school that interested me back in “my day.” But they estimate a cost of attendance of around $70,000. They get 30 percent of a class from out of state.
UC-Berkeley, which is similar to Michigan in several ways, estimates a non-resident cost of attendance of over $69,000. But unlike the University of Michigan or the University of Virginia, UC-Berkeley does not use its own funds to offer need-based or merit-based aid to non-residents.
Public institutions should cost significantly less than private universities for every student.
This is my view regardless of a family’s ability to pay or whether they hail from in-state or elsewhere. The estimated total cost of attendance should be less than the least expensive Ivy charges for tuition and fees alone. This year Harvard charges about $57,300. The other Ivies charge no less than $62,000. I realize that an Ivy will bring charges in-line with resident charges for your home state university, when those are the maximum costs you can cover. However, with the exceptions of UC-Berkeley and UCLA and out of state admissions at UNC-Chapel Hill and Georgia Tech, every Ivy is more selective than any state school.
Freshman retention at a Public Ivy should be no lower than 90 percent.
One great characteristic of the private Ivies as well as Ivy-like schools is that virtually everyone who gets in stays in. The same should be true for a Public Ivy. Flagship state universities have gotten much better at retaining their students since I was in college. The resources dedicated to academic advising, honors-level instruction and career development are much better than they were four decades ago.
Seventy percent or more of a freshman class at a Public Ivy should graduate within four years.
Another great characteristic of Ivy League and Ivy-like/near-Ivy schools is that most of their students graduate on time. The same should be true of a Public Ivy. There are some exceptions. Early entry into an advanced degree program is one, so is cooperative education, aka ‘co-op’. Co-op students alternate between classroom instruction and full-time work experience for as much as three years. Two schools on my Public Ivy list, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and Georgia Tech have large co-op programs
So, here’s this year’s list of Public Ivy schools:
- Binghamton University
- Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo
- Christopher Newport University (VA)
- Florida State University
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Miami University of Ohio
- The College of New Jersey
- University of Delaware
- University of Massachusetts-Amherst
- University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Picture above)
Are there best buys among Public Ivy schools?
If you were looking for the least expensive school, excluding merit scholarships, it’s Florida State. Florida residents have an estimated total cost of attendance that’s less than $24,000 before scholarships while non-residents have an estimate of just over $38,000.
Among the rest of the schools:
- Best value if you want co-op: Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and Georgia Tech
- Most aggressive with merit awards: Christopher Newport and Miami of Ohio
- Best opportunity for honors college admission and merit aid at the same time: Christopher Newport, Miami of Ohio and the University of Delaware
- Surprise move since my last post: The College of New Jersey reset non-resident tuition and fees to less than $23,000.
- Best value–without merit aid–if you want a smaller state university that has achievable admissions for an excellent student with rigor on the transcript: Binghamton University
- Most selective for a non-resident: Georgia Tech and UNC-Chapel Hill
- Largest honors college: UMass-Amherst
- Strongest alumni bases by geography across the US: Georgia Tech, UNC-Chapel Hill
I know. Some people don’t like my definition of Public Ivy.
Only two schools on my list, Miami of Ohio and UNC-Chapel Hill, are original Public Ivy schools dating back to 1986. Binghamton and Georgia Tech were runners up back then.
However, costs for non-residents, freshman retention and graduation rates were less of a concern. These schools were less expensive. Tuition and fees alone took a much a smaller percentage of a family’s income than they do now. If someone needed an extra semester or year to earn a degree, it was not as much of a pain in the purse as it is now. But in 2022 families are more cost and value conscious, especially if know that they will struggle to cover college costs while planning for their retirement.
Are my Public Ivy schools the best buys in higher education?
If you are looking for a pre-professional business or engineering program that can send one right into the workforce after graduation, it’s often tough to undercut public universities, especially if you live in a state like Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York or Virginia.
But I have also visited private liberal arts colleges that prepare their students exceptionally well for work or further education. They offer a more personal experience and leave families in less debt than much larger public schools. Some are quite selective, but others are not. This is especially true in Pennsylvania, the state that has more liberal arts colleges than any other. It has been common to hear that a mid-pack admitted student at Penn State or Pitt can qualify for enough scholarship aid to make an in-state private college experience less expensive than the large public universities.
Don’t leave this page believing that Ivies, mid-sized Ivy-like/near-Ivy and very large state schools are the only colleges worth your time and effort. Many schools offer instruction, direction and networks within a success-driven culture. I write these posts to help families find them.
Listen to my talk, What Exactly Is a Good College? hosted by test-prep experts Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin on Tests And The Rest!
Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!