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SmartAsset’s annual study of “Best Value Colleges” ranks NKU #1 of the state’s public universities

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

Northern Kentucky University has been named the #1 public university in Kentucky on the list of colleges in the state that give students the best return on their educational investment.

The seventh annual study was released by SmartAsset, an online destination for financial information and advice.

SmartAsset measured several categories, including scholarships provided, starting salary, tuition, living costs and retention rate.

Here’s how the Kentucky’s public universities stacked up, with Northern Kentucky University on top:

(Click to enlarge graph)

The private institutions on the Top Ten list included Centre College, Transylvania University, and Bellarmine University.

Only Centre College bested Northern on the Top Ten list.

Centre College’s tuition is $41,000, its average starting salary is $50,300 (just $100 higher than NKU’s), its average scholarships $28,800, retention rate 90% — and “College Education Value Index,” 43.30 (compared to NKU’s at 43.12).

All state universities rated ahead of Bellarmine University, and Transylvania University bested only Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University, both public universities.

See the comprehensive list here.

NKU currently has more than 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty. It says it “provides a private school education for a fraction of the cost,” and the SmartAsset study backs that up. While the institution is fast-growing, it claims “professors still know our students’ names.”

President Ashish Vaidya has worked with the Board of Regents to foster a “collegial and collaborative culture” and is committed to student success through its “Success by Design” strategic framework.

Vaidya became the university’s sixth president in 2018.

The university has 80+ majors, 22 master’s programs and a law school and a medical school in partnership with the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

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