The Public Ivy Schools for 2019-20
The start of the new admissions cycle is also the time that I begin to compile my list of ‘Public Ivy’ schools. Only I have may have a different view of what makes a school a Public Ivy.
To me a Public Ivy should:
- Retain at least 90 percent of a freshman class. Ivy Leaguers are most likely to stay at their schools, so should students who choose a Public Ivy.
- Graduate at least 70 percent of a freshman class within four years. Ivy League schools do better, but that’s because they are also smaller schools. The largest, Cornell, has 15,000 undergraduates. Few flagship state schools have enrollments that small. Penn has about 10,000. But the other Ivies have between 4,400 (Dartmouth) and 7,000 (Brown). And, like a private Ivy, a Public Ivy should succeed at graduating as many of its freshmen on time as it can, not just those who qualify for an honors college.
- Not charge non-resident students the same in tuition and fees as a private Ivy League school. The University of Michigan and the University of Virginia, for example, charge non-residents approximately $51,000 in tuition and fees. If you can be a full-pay at either school, you can also be a full-pay to Harvard or Princeton. They charge only $1,000 more. The University of California system has excellent schools. But non-resident charges are quite competitive with private options, and little financial aid is available to non-residents.
- Charge less for tuition and fees, room and board than an Ivy, Michigan or Virginia charge for tuition and fees alone. The idea of a Public Ivy is that all students, residents and non-residents, receive a high-quality undergraduate education at a public college price, even if they do not qualify for financial aid. I used Princeton’s charges as my guide, since Princeton has the lowest tuition and fees among the Ivies.
The list of schools that meet all of these criteria is short, including:
- Binghamton University (NY)
- St. Mary’s College of Maryland
- The College of New Jersey
- University of Delaware
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of Maryland-College Park
- University of Massachusetts-Amherst
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
- University of Texas-Austin
Among these schools Binghamton, Illinois, Maryland (picture above), UNC-Chapel Hill and UT-Austin recently accepted less than half of those who applied to join their current freshmen class. Admission to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is exceptionally selective. Just over a fifth of all applicants to this year’s freshman class were accepted. But only 13 percent of those from out-of-state got in. At Illinois it will be tougher for students to get into the engineering and business programs. Admissions to Chapel Hill and the more selective programs at Illinois are approaching the competitive level of a private Ivy. So are admissions to UT-Austin for those who fall outside of the top seven percent of their class in state, or those who come from out-of-state. While UMass-Amherst accepted 60 percent of all applicants, less than a quarter of the students who applied to the engineering school were offered admission. Maryland has some “limited access” majors, including the business programs and journalism where admissions are more competitive.
Also among these Public Ivy schools, St. Mary’s and Delaware are not exceptionally selective. St. Mary’s, Maryland’s Public Honors College, a liberal arts school, accepts over 80 percent of all applicants. It’s an appealing option for residents and non-residents who might also be looking at private liberal arts colleges in Maryland and Central Pennsylvania. And, unlike those schools, St. Mary’s features a beautiful waterfront campus. UDel has been a popular option for students in neighboring Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It’s the first college New Jersey college-bound freshmen choose if they want to leave the Garden State, and the second for Keystone State residents, after West Virginia University.
For residents and non-residents the best bang for the buck is with the two schools in New York: Binghamton and Geneseo. Binghamton draws about 14% of its students from outside New York, a higher percentage than any state university in the state, excluding Fashion Institute of Technology, a far more specialized school. Almost everyone at Geneseo comes from New York.
Three other schools that just missed this list that were worthy of mention.
I’ll give Georgia Tech props here although many students who become Yellow Jackets are more likely to stick around for five years to do co-op, pursue a master’s degree, sometimes both. Georgia Tech graduates over 80 percent of a class in five years. But the competition to get in gets fiercer each year. Only 16 percent of the applicants from outside of Georgia were offered admission.
The other schools that get props are the University of Connecticut and the University of Washington; both coincidentally call their teams the Huskies. Both came around $1,000 over my criteria for costs, although they hit my targets for retention and graduation rates. Both schools are also fairly selective, accepting less than half of all applicants. UConn also offers limited financial aid to non-residents.
Whenever you are considering the public nature of a college, you have to consider whether it will be a good value for your money whether you are a resident or non resident. You should also expect that school to do a better job at guiding you to a degree than your home state school, if your heart is set on a Public Ivy outside of your home state. These schools are not only going to be more expensive; some will become even more selective during this admissions cycle.