By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney received high marks in affordability and overall excellence in the latest “Best Colleges” rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
For the 15th consecutive year, UNK was recognized as one of the best public regional universities in the Midwest. Tied for seventh on the list, UNK is the highest-ranked school in Nebraska and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. It’s the eighth time the university has been inside the top 10, including a No. 6 ranking in 2021 and 2020.
Released today, the annual rankings evaluate more than 1,450 colleges and universities on up to 17 measures of academic quality, giving prospective students and their families useful data and information to help with one of life’s biggest decisions. UNK is tied for 37th among all Midwest regional universities – both public and private – ahead of schools such as Bellevue University, Concordia University, College of Saint Mary, Doane University, Midland University, Chadron State College, Peru State College and Wayne State College.
In addition to the overall ranking, UNK climbed six spots on U.S. News & World Report’s list of “Best Value Schools,” coming in at No. 2 among Midwest regional universities. UNK is the highest-ranked Nebraska school on this list, which looks at academic quality, cost of attendance and the percentage of full-time undergraduate students receiving need-based financial aid and scholarships.
“The rankings use data to document performance, and provide consumers a glimpse of how colleges and universities compare,” said Kelly Bartling, vice chancellor for enrollment management at UNK. “In addition to being top 10-ranked in the Midwest, being listed as the second-best value among comparable colleges and universities validates what we’re known for – outstanding quality at an affordable price. Value is more important than ever as families consider their investment in higher education. We’ll continue to start conversations with prospective students with our value proposition.”
UNK is the most affordable Nebraska university, with an annual cost of $18,903 for a full-time undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours per semester and living in a double room on campus with a Loper meal plan. Nearly 90% of all full-time freshmen received scholarships and/or grants in 2020-21, with the average need-based award totaling $10,267. Lopers received more than $28 million in scholarships and grants in 2020-21, contributing to the school’s No. 16 ranking for lowest graduate debt.
Bartling highlighted several steps UNK and the University of Nebraska System have taken to expand access and affordability for students. The Nebraska Promise allows qualifying Nebraska students with family incomes of $65,000 or less to attend UNK tuition-free, and the New Nebraskan Scholarship reduces the tuition rate for all out-of-state students, who now pay the in-state price for traditional, on-campus classes.
The NU System also implemented a two-year, across-the-board tuition freeze in 2021-22.
U.S. News & World Report has UNK tied for No. 51 for social mobility among Midwest regional universities, recognizing the support it provides to students who receive federal Pell Grants, and UNK is tied for 15th in the “Best Colleges for Veterans” category, topping all other Nebraska schools.
A Military and Veterans Student Center that opened last fall serves as a hub for military and veterans services on campus. Veterans, active service members and other military-connected students can relax, study and network at the space inside West Center and staff are available to assist with federal programs, campus resources and career services.