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.

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RankSchool Name20 Year Net ROI
Total 4 Year Cost
Graduation Rate
Typical Years to Graduate
Average Loan Amount
Rank:1School Name:
Duke University (Private)
20 Year Net ROI:$659,000Total 4 Year Cost:$262,000Graduation Rate:95%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$24,700
Rank:2School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$502,000Total 4 Year Cost:$254,000Graduation Rate:88%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$37,100
Rank:3School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$495,000Total 4 Year Cost:$90,600Graduation Rate:77%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$25,500
Rank:4School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$432,000Total 4 Year Cost:$153,000Graduation Rate:77%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$25,500
Rank:5School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$388,000Total 4 Year Cost:$82,300Graduation Rate:57%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$27,200
Rank:6School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$386,000Total 4 Year Cost:$98,900Graduation Rate:91%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$26,700
Rank:7School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$342,000Total 4 Year Cost:$70,000Graduation Rate:43%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$25,200
Rank:8School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$336,000Total 4 Year Cost:$134,000Graduation Rate:57%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$27,200
Rank:9School Name:
Elon University (Private)
20 Year Net ROI:$306,000Total 4 Year Cost:$184,000Graduation Rate:82%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$32,200
Rank:10School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$293,000Total 4 Year Cost:$119,000Graduation Rate:43%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$25,200

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. 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.