The Public Ivies for 2020-21
US News has just released its 2020-21 college rankings. So it’s time for me to announce which schools are my Public Ivies. This is one of my most-read posts. I have no doubt that some will agree with my list, and many will not. However, I have a very different view on which schools should be Public Ivies.
To me they should NOT be schools that charge non-residents as much as the private Ivy League schools. Public institutions are public and should cost significantly less. They should also work to graduate as many of their students on time as possible. An Ivy League school works to educate every student it enrolls and guides them to a degree.
Last year I set these basic criteria for schools to be listed as Public Ivies:
- Direct charges (tuition and fees, room and board) should be less than the least expensive Ivy (Yale) charges for tuition and fees alone
- The school should retain at least 90 percent of a freshman class
- Seventy percent or more of a freshman class should graduate within four years. I make an exception for schools that offer co-op, where a fifth year is need to earn the degree and build a resume.
Using those criteria, here’s the list for 2020-21
- Binghamton University
- Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Miami University of Ohio
- The College of New Jersey
- University of California-Los Angeles
- University of Delaware
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of Massachusetts-Amherst
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (pictured)
I know. This is a short list. Some of these schools were also on last year’s list. Others are new.
Many schools came quite close to making the Public Ivy list for the first or second time. This was the first time that two California schools make my list. UCLA actually charges less for tuition and fees, room and board than Yale charges for tuition and fees alone. The other UC campuses charge around the same tuition and fees, but their housing costs are higher. Otherwise a few more of their campuses would have made the cut.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo makes my list because of costs and a high graduation rate for students who go on co-op. This school has one of the largest voluntary cooperative education programs in the country, as does Georgia Tech. I blame myself for not considering Cal Poly before. It’s probably the best educational value in America, if you want to do co-op and earn a pre-professional degree.
Other schools that could have been Public Ivies missed slightly on costs or their graduation rate fell just below 70 percent.
Rutgers-New Brunswick, my alma mater, has a 65 percent four-year grad rate. Several other schools fell in between 65 and 70 percent. One of the more under-reported trends in higher education is the improving graduation rates of public universities. Virtually every flagship that I have reported on this site has made impressive gains in their four-year graduation rates.
I realize that there are some surprises on this list.
Most who follow higher education might agree that Binghamton, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Illinois or UNC-Chapel Hill are Public Ivies. Those schools have been found on other people’s lists. All of these schools are becoming more difficult to get into, as is Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. But the rest have sent acceptances at least half of the prospective freshmen who apply for admission.
Are there best buys on this list?
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is the best value here, although admissions are extremely selective, and you must have a major in mind when you apply. Binghamton and Geneseo, have fairly low sticker prices for residents and non-residents. The College of New Jersey has generous scholarships for non-residents. Miami of Ohio also has a generous merit scholarship program.
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Just thinking, why was Miami on the list of public Ivies? They’re private? 🤔 Both my brothers went there.
Miami University of Ohio is a state university.