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UT is one of the best values in public higher education, according to the new Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

The magazine’s annual “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” ranks American colleges based on affordability and academic quality. This year, the Best Values program evaluated hundreds of public colleges and universities, then narrowed the list to 100 schools based on measures of academic quality such as SAT or ACT scores, admission rates, retention rates, student-faculty ratios and graduation rates. Each school then was ranked based on cost and financial aid.

UT Knoxville was ranked sixty-eighth in the Top 100 list for its “high four-year graduation rate, low average student debt at graduation, abundant financial aid, a low sticker price and an overall great value,” according to the publication. UT is the only public university in Tennessee to make the Top 100 Best Values list.

“Affordability and access to higher education are top priorities for our university and critical concerns facing our nation,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “We are proud to be recognized for our efforts to consistently deliver a great value to our students and their families.”

Cheek, a first-generation college graduate, said enhancing access to the university involves eliminating the potential barriers to enrollment.

“We also provide the support our students need to be successful so they can earn their degree in four years,” he said.

UT has significantly increased its need-based scholarship programs to help Tennessee students earn their degree and minimize debt. The university gives $29 million in scholarships a year. Forty-three percent of that aid is based on student need.

The university’s average student debt and the percentage of graduates who incur debt are significantly lower than the national average, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. The institute’s Project on Student Debt estimates that in 2012, 71 percent of college graduates had an average debt of $29,400. Fifty-one percent of UT students graduate debt-free; the other forty-nine percent incur an average of $22,860 in debt, according to the same study.

For more information about Kiplinger’s 2014 Best Values in Public Colleges rankings, visit the Kiplinger’s website.

C O N T A C T :

Karen Simsen (865-974-5186,