Best Value Colleges in North Carolina

PayScale's 2016 College ROI Report ranks North Carolina colleges by their return on investment for your educational dollars.

The Tar Heel State is home to the famous Research Triangle, a wide selection high value colleges and universities, as well as hundreds of square miles of rolling hills and mountains and some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast.  Read More

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1Duke University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$633,000
Total 4 Year Cost$252,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,000
2North Carolina State University (NCSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$443,000
Total 4 Year Cost$88,200
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$24,700
3Wake Forest University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$437,000
Total 4 Year Cost$246,000
Grad Rate88%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$38,100
4North Carolina State University (NCSU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$385,000
Total 4 Year Cost$146,000
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$24,700
5University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$349,000
Total 4 Year Cost$97,100
Grad Rate90%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,600
6University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$348,000
Total 4 Year Cost$77,800
Grad Rate55%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,900
7North Carolina A&T State University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$314,000
Total 4 Year Cost$65,800
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,200
8University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$297,000
Total 4 Year Cost$129,000
Grad Rate55%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,900
9North Carolina A&T State University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$267,000
Total 4 Year Cost$113,000
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,200
10University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$256,000
Total 4 Year Cost$190,000
Grad Rate90%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,600
11North Carolina Wesleyan College (NCWC)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$241,000
Total 4 Year Cost$154,000
Grad Rate35%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,600
12 (tie)East Carolina University (ECU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$222,000
Total 4 Year Cost$82,600
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,300
12 (tie)Elon University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$222,000
Total 4 Year Cost$178,000
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$34,400
14Winston-Salem State University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$215,000
Total 4 Year Cost$69,300
Grad Rate46%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,800
15North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$202,000
Total 4 Year Cost$87,500
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,900

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

PayScale's data can help you easily pinpoint the best value colleges in North Carolina before you apply.

Prestigious and private Duke University is located in Durham. Founded in 1838, it sprawls across an immense, 8,600-acre campus that is lovingly referred to as the Gothic Wonderland due to its overwhelmingly Collegiate Gothic architecture. Made up of two undergraduate schools, including the Pratt School of Engineering, Duke produces more Fulbright, Rhodes, Goldwater and Truman scholars than any other private university in the nation. Without question, it is one of the best value colleges in North Carolina and a great choice if you can get in. And if you are a basketball fan, Duke's Blue Devils are one of the most successful college basketball teams in the country year after year. (Just don't wear the wrong shade of blue to a game!)

As the largest university in the Carolinas, North Carolina State University stands apart from other colleges in many ways. NC State is located in Raleigh and offers more than 100 bachelor's degrees, more than 100 master's degrees and more than 60 doctoral degrees. Best known for its programs in engineering, agriculture, textiles and design and the life sciences, NC State offers the value of college education North Carolina residents can use to build strong careers.

With its location just north of downtown Winston-Salem, Wake Forest University provides a return on investment North Carolina students and their families are sure to appreciate. The university is made up of an undergraduate college, a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and four professional schools, and it's an optimal choice for students who want top-notch educations that deliver the best value for their educational investments.