Best Value Colleges in Kentucky

The Bluegrass State is rich with a unique history and lots of natural wonders. From natural caves to producing the majority of the world’s bourbon, Kentucky has a lot to offer anyone who wants to spend the next four years here getting their education.

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Rank 
School Name 
Annual ROI
 
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
 
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
 
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
 
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
20 Year Net ROI
 
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
 
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
 
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
 
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
Total 4 Year Cost
 
Full cost, including tuition & fees, room & board, and books & supplies. Actual net cost may vary based on a student’s academic success and family income. Source: IPEDS
Total 4 Year Cost
 
Full cost, including tuition & fees, room & board, and books & supplies. Actual net cost may vary based on a student’s academic success and family income. Source: IPEDS
Graduation Rate
 
% of full-time, first-time degree seeking undergrad students who began their studies at the given school and graduate within 6 years. Source: IPEDS
Typical Years to Graduate
 
# of years it takes for at least 65 percent of graduates from a given school to receive their diplomas. Source: IPEDS
Average Loan Amount
 
Received by full-time, first-time degree seeking undergrad students, multiplied to represent amount over four years. Includes all Title IV loans and all institutionally- and privately-sponsored student loans. Source: IPEDS
% Grant Money Received
 
% of full-time, first-time undergrads who received local, state, federal, or institutional grant aid in the 2012-2013 academic year. Source: IPEDS
16.2%6.0%9.6%9.3%$362,000$356,000$436,000$431,000$157,000$163,00051%4$28,90040%
1Thomas More College(Private)
Annual ROI6.2%
Annual ROI6.0%
Annual ROI9.6%
Annual ROI9.3%
20 Year Net ROI$362,000
20 Year Net ROI$356,000
20 Year Net ROI$436,000
20 Year Net ROI$431,000
Total 4 Year Cost$157,000
Total 4 Year Cost$163,000
Grad Rate51%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$28,900
Grant Money Received40%
27.2%7.2%9.6%9.6%$310,000$310,000$347,000$347,000$104,000$104,00064%5$31,90024%
2University of Kentucky(In-State)
Annual ROI7.2%
Annual ROI7.2%
Annual ROI9.6%
Annual ROI9.6%
20 Year Net ROI$310,000
20 Year Net ROI$310,000
20 Year Net ROI$347,000
20 Year Net ROI$347,000
Total 4 Year Cost$104,000
Total 4 Year Cost$104,000
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$31,900
Grant Money Received24%
37.6%6.7%10.2%8.9%$275,000$261,000$307,000$293,000$82,900$97,20038%5$21,80037%
3Northern Kentucky University(In-State)
Annual ROI7.6%
Annual ROI6.7%
Annual ROI10.2%
Annual ROI8.9%
20 Year Net ROI$275,000
20 Year Net ROI$261,000
20 Year Net ROI$307,000
20 Year Net ROI$293,000
Total 4 Year Cost$82,900
Total 4 Year Cost$97,200
Grad Rate38%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$21,800
Grant Money Received37%
45.0%5.0%6.5%6.5%$258,000$258,000$295,000$295,000$155,000$155,00064%5$31,90024%
4University of Kentucky(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI5.0%
Annual ROI5.0%
Annual ROI6.5%
Annual ROI6.5%
20 Year Net ROI$258,000
20 Year Net ROI$258,000
20 Year Net ROI$295,000
20 Year Net ROI$295,000
Total 4 Year Cost$155,000
Total 4 Year Cost$155,000
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$31,900
Grant Money Received24%
56.5%6.5%9.1%9.1%$249,000$249,000$287,000$287,000$98,400$98,90053%5$25,40031%
5University of Louisville(In-State)
Annual ROI6.5%
Annual ROI6.5%
Annual ROI9.1%
Annual ROI9.1%
20 Year Net ROI$249,000
20 Year Net ROI$249,000
20 Year Net ROI$287,000
20 Year Net ROI$287,000
Total 4 Year Cost$98,400
Total 4 Year Cost$98,900
Grad Rate53%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$25,400
Grant Money Received31%
65.7%5.1%7.4%6.6%$241,000$227,000$273,000$258,000$117,000$132,00038%5$21,80037%
6Northern Kentucky University(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI5.7%
Annual ROI5.1%
Annual ROI7.4%
Annual ROI6.6%
20 Year Net ROI$241,000
20 Year Net ROI$227,000
20 Year Net ROI$273,000
20 Year Net ROI$258,000
Total 4 Year Cost$117,000
Total 4 Year Cost$132,000
Grad Rate38%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$21,800
Grant Money Received37%
77.0%6.5%9.4%8.7%$222,000$216,000$251,000$244,000$78,200$84,60045%4$24,00037%
7Western Kentucky University(In-State)
Annual ROI7.0%
Annual ROI6.5%
Annual ROI9.4%
Annual ROI8.7%
20 Year Net ROI$222,000
20 Year Net ROI$216,000
20 Year Net ROI$251,000
20 Year Net ROI$244,000
Total 4 Year Cost$78,200
Total 4 Year Cost$84,600
Grad Rate45%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$24,000
Grant Money Received37%
86.4%5.9%8.9%8.2%$196,000$189,000$226,000$219,000$80,200$87,40041%6$22,70047%
8Eastern Kentucky University(In-State)
Annual ROI6.4%
Annual ROI5.9%
Annual ROI8.9%
Annual ROI8.2%
20 Year Net ROI$196,000
20 Year Net ROI$189,000
20 Year Net ROI$226,000
20 Year Net ROI$219,000
Total 4 Year Cost$80,200
Total 4 Year Cost$87,400
Grad Rate41%
Time to Graduate6
Loan Amt$22,700
Grant Money Received47%
94.1%4.1%5.6%5.5%$192,000$192,000$230,000$229,000$156,000$156,00053%5$25,40031%
9University of Louisville(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI4.1%
Annual ROI4.1%
Annual ROI5.6%
Annual ROI5.5%
20 Year Net ROI$192,000
20 Year Net ROI$192,000
20 Year Net ROI$230,000
20 Year Net ROI$229,000
Total 4 Year Cost$156,000
Total 4 Year Cost$156,000
Grad Rate53%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$25,400
Grant Money Received31%
103.5%3.5%7.1%7.1%$186,000$186,000$278,000$278,000$185,000$185,00075%4$26,70023%
10Transylvania University(Private)
Annual ROI3.5%
Annual ROI3.5%
Annual ROI7.1%
Annual ROI7.1%
20 Year Net ROI$186,000
20 Year Net ROI$186,000
20 Year Net ROI$278,000
20 Year Net ROI$278,000
Total 4 Year Cost$185,000
Total 4 Year Cost$185,000
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$26,700
Grant Money Received23%
11 (tie)3.2%3.4%6.9%7.3%$175,000$182,000$277,000$284,000$201,000$194,00086%4$28,30019%
11 (tie)Centre College(Private)
Annual ROI3.2%
Annual ROI3.4%
Annual ROI6.9%
Annual ROI7.3%
20 Year Net ROI$175,000
20 Year Net ROI$182,000
20 Year Net ROI$277,000
20 Year Net ROI$284,000
Total 4 Year Cost$201,000
Total 4 Year Cost$194,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$28,300
Grant Money Received19%
11 (tie)4.0%3.7%6.3%5.9%$175,000$167,000$228,000$220,000$148,000$157,00047%5$21,60049%
11 (tie)Spalding University(Private)
Annual ROI4.0%
Annual ROI3.7%
Annual ROI6.3%
Annual ROI5.9%
20 Year Net ROI$175,000
20 Year Net ROI$167,000
20 Year Net ROI$228,000
20 Year Net ROI$220,000
Total 4 Year Cost$148,000
Total 4 Year Cost$157,000
Grad Rate47%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$21,600
Grant Money Received49%
132.9%2.9%6.4%6.4%$168,000$168,000$275,000$275,000$219,000$219,00064%4$29,60030%
13Bellarmine University(Private)
Annual ROI2.9%
Annual ROI2.9%
Annual ROI6.4%
Annual ROI6.4%
20 Year Net ROI$168,000
20 Year Net ROI$168,000
20 Year Net ROI$275,000
20 Year Net ROI$275,000
Total 4 Year Cost$219,000
Total 4 Year Cost$219,000
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$29,600
Grant Money Received30%
144.1%3.8%5.3%5.0%$165,000$159,000$193,000$187,000$135,000$142,00045%4$24,00037%
14Western Kentucky University(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI4.1%
Annual ROI3.8%
Annual ROI5.3%
Annual ROI5.0%
20 Year Net ROI$165,000
20 Year Net ROI$159,000
20 Year Net ROI$193,000
20 Year Net ROI$187,000
Total 4 Year Cost$135,000
Total 4 Year Cost$142,000
Grad Rate45%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$24,000
Grant Money Received37%
155.7%5.7%9.3%9.3%$164,000$164,000$202,000$202,000$80,100$80,10049%5$33,20036%
15Murray State University(In-State)
Annual ROI5.7%
Annual ROI5.7%
Annual ROI9.3%
Annual ROI9.3%
20 Year Net ROI$164,000
20 Year Net ROI$164,000
20 Year Net ROI$202,000
20 Year Net ROI$202,000
Total 4 Year Cost$80,100
Total 4 Year Cost$80,100
Grad Rate49%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$33,200
Grant Money Received36%

* N/A indicates school does not have an on campus living option.

The state is home to a huge park system that includes one National Park, two National Recreation Areas, two Natural History parks and 45 state parks. The cost of living in Kentucky is cheaper than the national average, and you can save yourself some additional money by picking a college that’s going to stretch your dollar the furthest. Use PayScale’s College ROI report as a guide to finding out which schools in Kentucky have the highest 20-year net ROI, which is the amount of money you earn 20 years after you graduate.

Thomas More College, a private school, has a small enrollment of around 1,900 students, which means smaller class sizes and more one-on-one time with your instructor.

If attending a small liberal arts school isn’t what you had in mind, consider attending the University of Kentucky. There are around 22,000 undergraduates who call KU home. When not in class, students enjoy living in the horse capital of the world — aka Lexington. But Lexington is more than just horses. It’s one of the cleanest cities in America, and it’s home to plenty of entertainment. Especially in the summer months.

Northern Kentucky University is also a worthwhile option to consider. Compared to UK, NKU has a smaller enrollment, at 16,000 students. Even so, NKU still offers the tradition aspects of a large college, including athletics and a Greek life system. Popular majors at NKU include journalism, business, and government.


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