Private colleges often dominate college rankings, with institutions like Princeton University claiming the top spot. However, public colleges and universities have their own advantages that should not be overlooked.
Public schools are generally more affordable and can offer better campus resources compared to private institutions. They have access to public funds, which allows them to support multi-year research studies. Public colleges also tend to offer more institutional or university grants funded by local, federal, or state dollars.
The University of Florida, located in Gainesville, was ranked 15th overall in the Wall Street Journal’s 2024 rankings, making it the highest-ranked public college or university on the list. It stands out for its low average net price of under $4,000, making it an affordable option compared to other top-ranked public schools. The University of Florida also scored well due to its high graduation rate and excellent educational facilities.
The Wall Street Journal used a new methodology for its rankings this year, giving more weight to students’ experiences, such as campus diversity, resources, and financial outcomes. Factors like graduation rates, expected earnings, and overall student satisfaction were considered in the rankings.
Here are the top 10 public colleges and universities in the U.S. for 2024, according to the Wall Street Journal:
1. University of Florida—Gainesville, Florida (Average Net Price: $3,679, Value added to graduate salary: $44,468)
2. New Jersey Institute of Technology—Newark, New Jersey (Average net price: $17,093, Value added to graduate salary: $56,495)
3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor—Ann Arbor, Michigan (Average net price: $17,086, Value added to graduate salary: $54,580)
4. Florida International University—Miami, Florida (Average net price: $6,232, Value added to graduate salary: $32,946)
5. University of Illinois Urbana, Champaign—Champaign, Illinois (Average net price: $15,483, Value added to graduate salary: $50,368)
6. Texas A&M University, College Station—College Station, Texas (Average net price: $20,976, Value added to graduate salary: $44,877)
7. Georgia Institute of Technology, Main Campus—Atlanta, Georgia (Average net price: $14,820, Value added to graduate salary: $71,375)
8. The University of Utah—Salt Lake City, Utah (Average net price: $12,867, Value added to graduate salary: $34,456)
9. University of Connecticut—Storrs, Connecticut (Average net price: $21,724, Value added to graduate salary: $47,076)
10. Baruch College—New York, New York (Average net price: $1,936, Value added to graduate salary: $45,078)
The rankings were determined using federal data on salary outcomes, as well as a survey of students and alumni. The colleges were evaluated based on student outcomes, learning environment, and diversity.
Public colleges and universities offer excellent education at an affordable price, making them a viable choice for many students seeking higher education.