2016 Ranking of Best Southern Regional Universities
Our 2016 Ranking of the Best Southern Regional Universities are based exclusively on factors actual college freshmen said were most important to their college decision. According to a nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, these factors include academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost, and success of graduates in the post-college job market. Each of these factors were weighted equally in our ranking, and data was derived from a variety of publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.

50

University of Central Arkansas

UCA

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The University of Central Arkansas, founded in 1907 originally as The Arkansas State Normal School, is located Conway, Arkansas, just 30 miles north of Little Rock. As of 2014, 11,698 students are enrolled with a student to faculty ratio of 17 to 1. UCA offers 82 undergraduate degrees. UCA is known for providing students with unique research and publication opportunities, a unique preparation for graduate studies. Students at UCA are actively involved in Greek life and student activities, and financial aid and scholarships are available.

Academic reputation score: 39
Average financial aid: $8,473
Average net price: $9,348
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

49

Lee University

Lee University

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Lee University, a private, faith-based liberal arts college founded in 1918, is a “Top Tier” regional school according to U.S. News & World Report and was named “Best in the Southeast” by the Princeton Review. Located on 106 acres in Cleveland, Tennessee, Lee University currently enrolls 5,104 undergraduates. Lee was recently named “the most affordable Christian college in the U.S.” by Christian Universities Online. The student to teacher ratio is 17 to 1, lending to smaller, personal class sizes and one-on-one instruction. Lee University offers 50 majors, more than 100 clubs on campus, and over 25 different study abroad options.

Academic reputation score: 43
Average financial aid: $11,854
Average net price: $11,773
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

48

Kennesaw State University

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Previously Southern Polytechnic State University, Kennesaw State University is located just north of Atlanta, Georgia on about 400 acres. There are two campuses: one in Kennesaw, Georgia, and one in Marietta, Georgia. Kennesaw State serves over 32,000 students and offers over 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees. It is Georgia’s third-largest university and boasts nationally ranked degrees in business, engineering and first-year programs, as well as premier teaching, nursing, architecture, science and math programs. Students enjoy diversity in the student body, many student clubs and organizations, study abroad programs, and a far-reaching alumni base of over 100,000 graduates.

Academic reputation score: 32
Average financial aid: $5,879
Average net price: $10,562
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

47

Northern Kentucky University

NKU

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Northern Kentucky University, founded in 1968, is a public university located in northern Kentucky, just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is primarily an undergraduate institution with over 13,000 undergraduate students currently enrolled. It offers 80 undergraduate degrees, the most popular of which are Organizational Leadership, Elementary Education, Communication Studies, and Accounting. Over 220 campus clubs and organizations are available as well as scholarships and financial aid.

Academic reputation score: 38
Average financial aid: $5,798
Average net price: $9,044
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

46

University of Tennessee—​Chattanooga

UTChattanooga

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The University of Tennessee Chattanooga is halfway between Atlanta, Georgia, and Knoxville, Tennessee. It offers more than 100 bachelor’s degrees, and one-third of resident students are from the Chattanooga area. UT also offers over 120 student organizations, a thriving Greek life, many philanthropic opportunities, nightly events, guest speakers, concerts, and fun, competitive intramurals. Financial aid and scholarships are available, as well as veterans’-specific scholarships, grants, student loans, and federal work-study programs, and financial counseling. More than 75% of students at UT receive some type of financial aid assistance.

Academic reputation score: 43
Average financial aid: $7,585
Average net price: $11,569
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

45

University of North Florida

UNF

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The University of North Florida sits on 1,400 quiet acres in Jacksonville, Florida, and serves over 13,000 students. It is environmentally friendly and offers a Military and Veterans Resource Center on campus. UNF also offers an honors program, study abroad programs, and a unique student leadership initiative called the Taylor Leadership Institute. The University hosts more than 200 student clubs and organizations, Greek life, and a thriving athletics program.

Academic reputation score: 46
Average financial aid: $6,157
Average net price: $13,207
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

44

Gardner-​Webb University

Gardner Webb

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Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, Baptist-related four-year university located on 225 acres in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, 50 miles west of Charlotte in the Piedmont area of Western North Carolina. Gardner-Webb offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate fields of study and over 50 student clubs and organizations. It serves 5,000 students total, with students from 37 states and 21 foreign countries, and about 63% of the student population being female. Of the students, one-third of students major in the business field; another third major in social sciences, and 17% major in nursing.

Academic reputation score: 52
Average financial aid: $14,129
Average net price: $21,661
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

43

University of Tennessee—​Martin

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The University of Tennessee Martin serves more than 7,000 students (6,650 of those undergraduates) from 40 states and 19 countries. Most classes have fewer than 30 students. The University offers 17 undergraduate degrees with more than 100 specialized concentrations. The University also offers internships, clinical and educational placements, over 180 clubs and student organizations, and community service. Approximately 90% of students receive financial aid along with scholarships, grants, and loans.

Academic reputation score: 44
Average financial aid: $8,623
Average net price: $7,531
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

42

Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University

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Jacksonville University was originally founded in 1934 as a junior college offering night classes in downtown Jacksonville. In the 1950s, Jacksonville became a university and moved to its new location as a private university in the Arlington area of Jacksonville. Jacksonville University offers 7 bachelor’s degree programs, over 70 majors, programs, and concentrations. The most popular majors are nursing, aviation management & flight operations, business, kinesiology, biology, and marine science. Jacksonville University also offers an Accelerated Degree Program with classes during evenings and weekends for nontraditional and part-time students.

Academic reputation score: 37
Average financial aid: $21,841
Average net price: $20,618
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

41

Winston-​Salem State University

WSSU

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Winston-Salem is a historically black public research university located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The university was founded 1892, and by 1925 was the first African-American institution in the nation to grant elementary education teaching degrees. Winston-Salem University currently enrolls around 6,400 students and offers more than 40 majors. Students are provided with opportunities such as study abroad programs, community service programs, and internships that can make a huge impact on career choices. Diggs Gallery at WSSU is one of the nation’s best regional contemporary Africa-American art galleries.

Academic reputation score: 43
Average financial aid: $7,711
Average net price: $8,340
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

40

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State

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Founded in 1909 as the First District Agricultural School, “A-State” is located atop 1,376 acres on Crowley’s Ridge in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It is the second largest university in Arkansas by enrollment, serving over 13,000 students, with 1,700 of those being incoming freshman. Arkansas state offers more than 106 fields of study, a thriving Greek life, more than 150 student clubs and organizations, active intramurals groups, as well as volunteer programs and non-traditional student support through Leadership and Multicultural Centers. The average class size at Arkansas State is 27 and the student-to-faculty ratio is 17:1.

Academic reputation score: 44
Average financial aid: $9,890
Average net price: $8,984
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

39

Wingate University

Wingate University

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Wingate is a private university with more than 3,000 on three campuses in Wingate, Charlotte, and Hendersonville, in North Carolina. It is proudly and consistently ranked as “a top-ten best value in the South” by U.S. News & World Report. Wingate also offers over 50 student organizations, internships, study abroad programs, lyceums, and a strong athletics program offering plenty of extracurricular activities. 95% of incoming students receive financial aid.

Academic reputation score: 50
Average financial aid: $20,063
Average net price: $15,438
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

38

Marshall University

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Founded in 1837 originally as the Marshall Academy, Marshall University is public research university in Huntington, West Virginia. It is named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. As of 2014, the student body consists of about 13,390 students, with 9,541 of those being undergraduates. Marshall serves students from 49 states, 56 foreign countries, and 55 West Virginia counties. The student-to-faculty ratio is 19:1 and almost half of the classes contain fewer than 20 students. Marshall offers over 100 degree programs, more than 230 student organizations, as well as a National Exchange program, study abroad programs, Greek life, and Veteran & Military support.

Academic reputation score: 49
Average financial aid: $7,816
Average net price: $8,457
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

37

Campbell University

Campbell University

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Founded 1887, Campbell University, a private Christian university, is located in Buies Creek, North Carolina. It also has extended campuses in Research Triangle Park, Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg/Pope Air Force Base, and Raleigh (law school). Campbell currently enrolls 6,000 students, 3,000 of those who are undergraduate students on the main campus. The student to faculty ratio is 19:1. Campbell offers over 100 undergraduate majors, tracks and concentrations. Extensive financial aid options and scholarships are available, and more than 88% of Campbell students receive financial assistance.

Academic reputation score: 54
Average financial aid: $14,221
Average net price: $26,163
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

36

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University Nursing

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Western Carolina University, founded 1189, is a public university that sits on 600 acres in Cullowhee, North Carolina, about an hour west of Asheville. Western Carolina is a part of the University of North Carolina system serving over 10,000 students that come from 48 states and 35 countries. Still, most classes have less than 30 students and the student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1. Western Carolina offers 115 areas of study for undergraduates and more than 62 graduate programs taught by a distinguished faculty. About 75% of students receive some sort of financial aid, which is readily available to students in the form of grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs.

Academic reputation score: 51
Average financial aid: $5,962
Average net price: $11,978
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

35

Mississippi University for Women

MUW

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Originally founded in 1884 the first public college for women, Mississippi University for Women is celebrating 30 years as a co-educational institution. MUW offers small class sizes, one-on-one mentoring between professors and students, honors and study abroad programs, as well as a strong sense of community. MUW also offers more than 50 majors and concentrations and over 75 student clubs and organizations. Financial aid and scholarships are offered.

Academic reputation score: 48
Average financial aid: $7,918
Average net price: $9,766
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

34

Lynchburg College

Lynchburg

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Lynchburg College is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Lynchburg, Virginia and spans 250 acres. It is about 3 hours from Washington, D.C. and 2 hours from Richmond, Virginia. Lynchburg is a private, independent college serving 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students. Lynchburg offers 39 undergraduate majors, as well as 52 minors and 14 graduate degrees. Lynchburg also offers an active student body, over 80 clubs and organizations, Greek life, and community service opportunities.

Academic reputation score: 53
Average financial aid: $18,867
Average net price: $23,046
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

33

Longwood University

Longwood

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Longwood University, located in Farmville, Virginia, was founded 1839 as the Farmville Female Seminary Association, then Longwood College in 1949, and finally Longwood University in 2007. It is one of the 50 oldest institutions in the country and it is composed of five colleges: the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Economics, the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, and the Cormier Honors College. Longwood is a member of the Big South Conference and offers over 125 campus organizations, Greek life, and an active athletics program. Longwood is one of the few universities in the country to actually require students complete an internship before graduation.

Academic reputation score: 56
Average financial aid: $8,069
Average net price: $16,182
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

32

Thomas More College

Thomas More

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Thomas More College is a Roman Catholic, liberal arts college in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1921. There are currently 1,900 full and part-time students, which lends to smaller class sizes and a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Thomas More offers 39 undergraduate majors, three and four-year degree programs, accelerated adult programs, as well as online programs. Thomas More also offers a “military friendly campus,” competitive athletics, a strong connection to the local community, and active research opportunities. 100% of all traditional, full-time students receive financial aid through institutional scholarships. Thomas More awards more than $10 million in scholarships and grants annually. Funds, grants, and tuition assistance are offered.

Academic reputation score: 47
Average financial aid: $17,414
Average net price: $19,317
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

31

Marymount University

Marymount U

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Marymount University is an independent, Catholic university founded in 1950. Marymount’s main campus is in Arlington, Virginia, with an additional campus in Reston, Virginia. Approximately 3,441 students were enrolled in Fall 2014 (2,363 undergraduate students) with the student population representing 42 states and 66 countries. The student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1 and the average class size for undergraduate courses is 16. Marymount offers scholarships based on merit, volunteer service, and financial need. Marymount also offers a prestigious honors program, internships, study abroad and athletics programs, and more than 30 clubs and organizations.

Academic reputation score: 51
Average financial aid: $14,265
Average net price: $22,593
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

30

University of Tampa

Tampa

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The University of Tampa sits on 105 acres in Tampa, Florida, offering a stunning location and top-notch academic, athletic and fitness facilities. Of its 8,000 students currently enrolled, about 1,400 of those are international students. Over 90% of students receive financial aid. UT offers over 200 academic programs, the most popular being International Business. UT also offers study abroad programs, honors programs, an Academic Success Center, over 1,000 internship opportunities, and a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:17 with an average class size of only 21 students. UT boasts over 220 student organizations and 24 sororities and fraternities, an active student body, and 95% of all students who apply to grad school are admitted.

Academic reputation score: 63
Average financial aid: $11,024
Average net price: $26,735
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

29

Georgia College & State University

Georgia College and State University

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Georgia College & State University was founded 1889. It is a liberal arts college in Milledgeville, Georgia, and boasts a small town feel and a gorgeous campus. Just fewer than 6,000 undergrads are currently enrolled, with most of them being full-time students. Georgia College & State earned the title “Number One Safest Campus in Georgia” as well as a ranking in the Princeton Review’s “Best Southeastern Colleges.”  Undergraduates have the opportunity to research alongside faculty, be a part of over 170 student clubs and organizations, take part in Greek life, the GIVE center, as well as honor and academic societies.

Academic reputation score: 58
Average financial aid: $6,588
Average net price: $16,466
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

28

Western Kentucky University

WKU

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Western Kentucky University is a public university in Bowling Green, Kentucky, founded 1906. It serves over 20,000 students total, and about 18,000 of those are undergraduates. Freshman class sizes are still 24 students on average. Students come from almost every state in the United States and over 75 countries. Financial aid and scholarships are available, including Merit Scholarships, Tuition Incentive Programs, Departmental Scholarships, and Alumni Grants. Students are encouraged to take advantage of undergraduate applied research opportunities and to be a part of community service and study abroad programs.

Academic reputation score: 54
Average financial aid: $6,124
Average net price: $10,597
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

27

Radford University

Radford

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Radford University is a mid-sized and affordable, student-oriented university located in Radford, Virginia, which is 36 miles southwest of Roanoke, near the Blue Ridge Mountains. Radford has also recently won “Top Green Colleges in the Nation,” “Best for Vets,” “Best Dorms,” and a place in “Top Interior Design Schools in the South.” Average freshman class size is 33 students.  Radford sits on a 204-acre campus and offers 67 degree programs, scholarships and financial aid, and over 250 student clubs and organizations for its nearly 10,000 students currently enrolled.

Academic reputation score: 52
Average financial aid: $7,967
Average net price: $12,295
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

26

Mississippi College

mississippi college

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Founded 1826, Mississippi College began as Hampstead Academy in Clinton, Mississippi. It is a private, Christian college affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention. Mississippi College is the oldest institution of higher learning in Mississippi and the second oldest Baptist university in the nation, and offers 80 undergraduate majors. It proudly boasts lower-than-average tuition and a generous scholarship program. Currently, 5,050 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled, which lends to smaller class sizes. Scholarships, loans, and grants, and payment plans are all available to undergraduates.

Academic reputation score: 57
Average financial aid: $10,218
Average net price: $15,712
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

25

Winthrop University

Winthrop

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Winthrop University, a public university founded 1886, is located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, about 20 minutes from Charlotte, North Carolina. Winthrop has a strong focus on community involvement, winning it the “The 2015 Community Engagement Classification” from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Winthrop currently serves about 5,000 undergraduates as well as just over 1000 graduates. The student to faculty ratio is 14 to 1. Over 160 student clubs and organizations are offered as well as scholarships and financial aid, an honors program, and undergraduate research opportunities.

Academic reputation score: 61
Average financial aid: $9,221
Average net price: $14,941
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

24

Brenau University

Breneau

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Brenau is a small, private college whose main campus is in Gainesville, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. The other campus locations are in North Atlanta/Norcross, South Atlanta/Fairburn, Augusta, and Kings Bay, as well as a new campus in Jacksonville. All campuses as well as online programs attract both men and women, although the Women’s College in Gainesville remains the cornerstone of the university. Currently, about 2,777 students are enrolled, with 1,723 of those being undergrads. Financial aid, scholarships, study abroad programs, internships, and an honors program are all available to students. Brenau also offers special services such as assistance to veterans, a women’s leadership series, and a child development center.

Academic reputation score: 50
Average financial aid: $18,767
Average net price: $15,392
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

23

Murray State University

Murray State

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Murray State University, located in Murray, Kentucky, just seven miles north of Tennessee, is a four-year public university. Murray States serves about 11,166 students from 40 states, 47 foreign countries, and 107 Kentucky counties, with almost 10,000 of those being undergraduates. It is also 20 miles west of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. For 24 straight years, Murray State University has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges as one of the top regional universities in the United States. Murray State offers just over 160 associate and bachelor’s programs, with the most popular undergraduate fields being nursing, animal health technology, business administration, elementary education, and biology.

Academic reputation score: 60
Average financial aid: $8,509
Average net price: $9,765
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

22

Harding University

harding

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Harding University is a private liberal arts university located on 350 acres in Searcy, Arkansas, about 50 miles north-east of Little Rock. Harding also boasts international campuses all over the world. The university is composed of nine colleges and is associated with the Church of Christ. As of fall 2014, the total enrollment of 6,075 students includes 4,492 undergraduate and 1,583 graduate students from almost all 50 states and 44 foreign countries. Harding offers students various internships, mission trips, study abroad programs, and a widespread alumni base across the globe. Around 96% of undergrads receive financial aid. Harding has been ranked as a top university in the South for the twenty-first consecutive year.

Academic reputation score: 65
Average financial aid: $8,834
Average net price: $16,578
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

21

Hampton University

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Originally founded in 1868 as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, Hampton University sits in Hampton, Virginia on 314 sprawling acres. It is also home to the Emancipation Oak, a very important part of Hampton’s history. There are approximately 4,500 students at Hampton, 3,500 of which are undergraduates. Hampton offers over 50 Bachelor and Associate’s degrees, and almost 50% of students live in on-campus housing. For Fall 2014, 19,473 students applied, and only 882 were accepted. The student to faculty ratio is 10:1. Financial aid and academic scholarships are available to students, as well as educational grants, need-based grants, and student loans.

Academic reputation score: 67
Average financial aid: $11,176
Average net price: $21,191
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

20

Christopher Newport University

Christopher Newport

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Christopher Newport University is a public liberal arts university located on 260 acres in Newport News, Virginia. It was only recently declared a full university in 1992 after starting of as a branch from College of William & Mary. The University sits just over 2 hours from Washington, D.C. and less than an hour from Norfolk, Williamsburg, and Virginia Beach. Christopher Newport offers more than 80 areas of study to its 5,000 students. Students hail from more than 25 states and 38 countries. The University also boasts over 250 student clubs and volunteer organizations, and athletics.

Academic reputation score: 69
Average financial aid: $4,342
Average net price: $20,328
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

19

Tennessee Technological University

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Founded in 1915, Tennessee Technological University (popularly known as Tennessee Tech) is a public university in Cookeville, Tennessee, surrounded by lakes, state parks, mountains, and rivers.  It is conveniently located 70 miles east of Nashville and currently enrolls more than 10,000 students. Tennessee Tech offers more than 40 undergraduate degrees and 20 graduates degrees across six disciplines: Agriculture and Human Ecology, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, and Interdisciplinary and Extended Education.

Academic reputation score: 52
Average financial aid: $7,746
Average net price: $12,389
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

18

Lipscomb University

lipscomb

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Lipscomb University, founded in 1891 by David Lipscomb and James A. Harding, is a Christian institution located in Nashville, Tennessee. This faith-based university, affiliated with the Churches of Christ, is focused on “spiritual growth as well as academics.” It currently enrolls more than 4,500 students. Lipscomb offers bachelor’s degrees in 117 fields on undergraduate study. Also offered are several pre-professional programs, accelerated evening programs, and an online program.

Academic reputation score: 67
Average financial aid: $15,044
Average net price: $22,243
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

17

College of Charleston

College of Charleston

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College of Charleston, founded in 1770, is a public, sea-grant and space-grant university located in historic, charming downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The University currently offers 59 majors and 66 various degree programs. The average class size is 26 students. As of Fall 2014, there were over 10,000 undergraduates and almost 1,200 graduates. The student body represents 49 states and territories as well as 62 countries. College of Charleston offers over 200 student clubs and organizations, Greek life, arts and culture, Multicultural student programs, and many athletic programs.

Academic reputation score: 72
Average financial aid: $8,867
Average net price: $16,628
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

16

Belmont University

Belmont University

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Belmont University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university located on 75 acres in Nashville, Tennessee—also known as “Music City USA.” Belmont is one of the fastest growing Christian universities in the nation with almost 7,400 students who represent all 50 states and 25 countries. The University is “committed to being a leader among teaching universities” and fosters an academic environment surrounded by a supportive, Christian community. Belmont offers 80 areas of undergraduate study and over 135 student organizations, intramural sports, faith development organizations, sports clubs and Greek life.

Academic reputation score: 85
Average financial aid: $11,093
Average net price: $30,357
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

15

University of North Carolina—​Wilmington

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University of North Carolina—​Wilmington, frequently referred to as UNC Wilmington, is a public university located in Wilmington, North Carolina. UNC Wilmington offers 55 bachelor degrees in 49 majors as well as 42 master’s degrees, and 2 doctoral degrees. Also offered are distance-learning programs, accelerated programs, and courses for those continuing their education. UNC Wilmington has also created an applied learning model—known as ETEAL (Experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning)—that incorporates internships, study abroad, community-based projects, research, and directed independent study options.

Academic reputation score: 70
Average financial aid: $5,822
Average net price: $12,089
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

14

University of Mary Washington

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The University of Mary Washington is a public university located in Fredericksburg, Virginia an hour from Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. There are approximately 4,000 undergraduates at UMW. Of the entire student body, 60% live on campus. The average undergraduate class is 22 students and the student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1. There are more than 40 majors and programs of study. UMW also offers internships, study abroad opportunities, continuing education, and leadership and recreational opportunities.

Academic reputation score: 72
Average financial aid: $6,141
Average net price: $15,074
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

13

Bellarmine University

Bellarmine University

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Bellarmine University is a private, Catholic university located in Louisville, Kentucky on 175 sprawling acres that currently serves a total of 3,609 students, of which 2,585 are undergraduates. The student to faculty ratio is 12:1 and the average class size is 20 students.  Bellarmine offers over 50 majors and programs and more than 70 student organizations. Bellarmine offers small classes, internships, study abroad options in over 50 countries, and an extensive alumni network. Financial aid and scholarships are readily available. In fact, 100% of Bellarmine freshmen receive scholarships and grants.

Academic reputation score: 72
Average financial aid: $23,824
Average net price: $23,977
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

12

Christian Brothers University

Christian Brothers University

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Christian Brothers University sits on 75 acres in midtown Memphis, Tennessee, four miles out of downtown. With its’ small enrollment, the average class size at CBU is just 14 students and the student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1. Over 50% of students live on campus. CBU has been ranked “among the top 20% of the nation’s colleges by Forbes magazine” alongside the best Southern universities in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” and among the best Southeastern colleges by the Princeton Review. CBU offers over 45 student organizations, intramurals, campus ministries, and volunteer opportunities.

Academic reputation score: 60
Average financial aid: $22,629
Average net price: $11,679
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

11

Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola University New Orleans

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Chartered in 1912, Loyola is a private, Jesuit in New Orleans, Louisiana spreading across 24 acres on St. Charles Avenue. Loyola is currently ranked “eleventh best institution among Southern regional universities offering masters and undergraduate degrees in the 2015 issue of the annual America’s Best Colleges issue and guidebook” published by U.S. News & World Report. Students at Loyola enjoy small classes and a personal education with a student to faculty ratio of just 11 to 1. Students can choose from the 65 undergraduate degrees offered as well as many study abroad programs, over 90 student organizations, and scholarships and financial aid options.

Academic reputation score: 76
Average financial aid: $23,523
Average net price: $23,419
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

10

Appalachian State University

Appalacian State

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Appalachian State is a public university located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Boone, North Carolina. Just this month, the Princeton Review named Appalachian State among the “Best in the Southeast” recommended schools in its “2016 Best Colleges: Region by Region” website feature. The university was also included in a list of 353 “Green Colleges.” Appalachian offers 103 undergraduate majors and holds a 63% acceptance rate. There are almost 16,000 undergraduates currently enrolled at Appalachian State, “known for its value and affordability.”

Academic reputation score: 78
Average financial aid: $7,843
Average net price: $10,203
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

9

Union University

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Union University is a private, evangelical Christian liberal arts university. It is located in Jackson, Tennessee, with additional campuses in Germantown and Hendersonville. Union has been named one of the top institutions in the Southern Region for the past eleven years by U.S. News & World Report. It is dedicated to growing students’ knowledge and faith with a highly trained faculty and small class size. Students hail from 44 states and 33 countries and Union consistently holds a 91% retention rate. Union offers over 100 programs of study as well as student organizations, study abroad programs, and faith-centered support.

Academic reputation score: 74
Average financial aid: $18,943
Average net price: $21,944
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

8

Samford University

Samford University

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Established in 1841, Samford University is a private university in Homewood, Alabama, just out of Birmingham. It is Alabama’s top-ranked private university and offers 32 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. Currently, there are 4,933 students enrolled from 44 states and 25 countries. It has been top-ranked for its academic programs, value, and affordability. Samford University has a current enrollment of 4.933 students and has an 83% acceptance rate. Samford also prides itself on small class sizes, numerous student organizations, honors programs, and a 94% placement rate of graduates into either employment or graduate school within six months of graduation.

Academic reputation score: 89
Average financial aid: $13,209
Average net price: $25,626
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

7

Elon University

Elon

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Elon University is a small, private liberal arts university in Elon, North Carolina with just under 6,000 students currently enrolled. Previously Elon College, it became Elon University in 2001. It has been ranked #1 for its study abroad programs and number of students with global study abroad experience. It is also listed as one of the nation’s most beautiful and affordable private universities. Elon offers small classes with faculty focused on teaching, mentoring, and taking the ranking as the #1 school “focused on student success” according to the U.S. News & World Report.

Academic reputation score: 100
Average financial aid: $11,489
Average net price: $30,272
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

 

6

James Madison University

James Madison

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James Madison University, in Shenandoah Valley of Harrisonburg, Virginia, is a public research university located only two hours south of Washington D.C. James Madison currently offers 122 different degree programs. As of Fall 2014, there were 19,144 undergraduates enrolled with a 65% acceptance rate. Students engage in a variety of community service events, student organizations, Greek life, and international programs. Eighty percent of JMU graduates do research, an internship, a practicum or student teach.

Academic reputation score: 84
Average financial aid: $7,378
Average net price: $14,521
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

5

Stetson University

Stetson

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Stetson University is a private, nonprofit university located in DeLand, Florida about an hour north of Orlando. There is also a second campus in Gulfport, Florida. Stetson also has two satellite locations in Tampa, FL and in Celebration, FL. Stetson boasts a rich history and offers 73 academic programs. A majority of incoming students enroll in the arts and sciences. Undergraduates have the opportunity to be a part of leadership and research programs, volunteer services, and student body activities.

Academic reputation score: 84
Average financial aid: $28,102
Average net price: $21,975
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

4

The Citadel

Citadel

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For the fourth consecutive year, The Citadel, located in Charleston, South Carolina, has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the top public college in the south for institutions granting up to a master’s degree. Although the Citadel is known for the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, non-military degrees and certifications programs are also offered from The Citadel Graduate College and the Evening Undergrad Studies program for non-traditional students. The Citadel currently offers seven evening undergrad programs: Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science, or Social Studies Education. The Citadel currently holds an 80% acceptance rate.

Academic reputation score: 88
Average financial aid: $13,209
Average net price: $25,626
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

3

Embry-​Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Located in Daytona, Florida, Embry-Riddle offers the world’s most comprehensive collection of academic programs with focus on aviation, aerospace, business, engineering and security. Embry-Riddle also has a campus in Prescott, Arizona as well as a “Worldwide Campus” to support military and those abroad wanting to continue their education. Students come from more than 125 countries around the world and are involved in 150-plus clubs, including 16 fraternities and sororities. More than 95% of Embry-Riddle students receive some sort of financial aid.

Academic reputation score: 77
Average financial aid: $7,843
Average net price: $10,203
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

2

Rollins College

Rollins

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Rollins College is a private, liberal arts college located in Winter Park, Florida just north of Orlando along the shores of Lake Virginia. The Princeton Review recently named Rollins College as the #1 Most Beautiful Campus in the nation. For 20 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rollins among the top two regional universities in the South and first in Florida. As of 2010, the acceptance rate was 54%. Every year, students are awarded more than $50 million in support. Students are also involved in study-abroad and internship opportunities, organizations, and the local community.

Academic reputation score: 98
Average financial aid: $24,343
Average net price: $32,225
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

1

Mercer University

Mercer

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Mercer University is the oldest private university in Georgia and one of the most distinctive. It is a faith-based institution that sits on 150 acres an hour south of Atlanta in the city Macon, Georgia. Consistently, the business major is the most popular major on campus. The Mercer student body includes in more than 100 student organizations, a vibrant Greek life, and athletic program. Students at Mercer also have access to an alumni network of over 71,000 graduates and professionals.

Academic reputation score: 82
Average financial aid: $26,719
Average net price: $19,733
Average starting salary: PayScale.com
Admissions website

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