Swarthmore Tops List of Best-Value Colleges and Universities

Scott Outdoor Amphitheater in the fall

Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine: Best College Values, 2017

Swarthmore College moved to the head of our combined list this year in part because of generous financial aid awards and a competitive 12 percent admission rate. It also leads our list of liberal arts colleges for the sixth time. Most of its idyllic 425-acre campus, 11 miles outside of Philadelphia, is set on an arboretum. Swatties can hop a train at the station at the edge of campus for the 30-minute ride to Philly’s Center City.

Swarthmore’s annual sticker price ($64,840) is sobering at first glance. But more than half of its students receive need-based aid, and the average award slashes the total cost of attendance by 68 percent, to $20,584. Like many of the institutions in the upper tier of our rankings, the school’s financial aid awards keep loans off the table. All aid is in the form of scholarships and grants. One-third of students still borrow, but the average debt among recent graduates was $18,262, about 40 percent less than the national average for borrowers at private colleges.

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