Texas A&M Ad: In Good Company

2019 Best Bang for the Buck Rankings: South

Below are our rankings of America’s Best Bang for the Buck Colleges—our exclusive list of schools ranked according to how well they help non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices. The list is created by isolating the social mobility metrics from the main rankings of four-year institutions. Click here for detailed methodology, here for all of our other rankings, and here to download the full data set.

RankName8-year graduation ratePell/non-Pell grad rate gapNumber of Pell graduatesFirst-gen studentsMedian earningsPredicted median earningsNet priceLoan repayment rate
1Berea College (KY)64%-29%24938% $34,242 $27,061 $2,898 69%
2University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley (TX)*50%-2%84954% $41,571 $39,848 $3,382 58%
3Texas A&M University–Texarkana (TX)*68%-3%2046% $35,863 $34,410 $8,910 59%
4Texas A&M University–College Station (TX)*80%-11%134230% $57,067 $54,268 $11,579 85%
5Louisiana College (LA)38%11%5537% $41,760 $36,525 $13,648 68%
6Texas A&M International University (TX)*49%-2%28849% $45,395 $42,793 $6,185 57%
7University of Holy Cross (LA)44%12%446% $40,683 $39,961 $12,227 67%
8Bryan College (TN)58%2%5539% $38,511 $40,053 $13,739 76%
9Vanderbilt University (TN)93%-4%19512% $66,108 $66,108 $6,907 89%
10University of Houston–Victoria (TX)*67%-6%1546% $40,844 $42,192 $9,295 62%
11Trinity University (TX)82%-7%8018% $55,569 $56,505 $14,062 92%
12University of Texas–El Paso (TX)*51%-9%64142% $40,360 $37,108 $6,164 57%
13Southern Nazarene University (OK)44%14%5836% $47,649 $45,099 $14,119 70%
14King University (TN)72%-15%3451% $41,746 $40,610 $18,120 70%
15Southeastern OK State University (OK)*40%-11%7547% $35,657 $33,751 $7,284 57%
16Wiley College (TX)^30%5%3646% $27,045 $20,748 $13,934 31%
17Southern University and A&M College (LA)*34%1%16540% $34,586 $36,931 $12,863 54%
18Sam Houston State University (TX)*60%-10%40042% $43,702 $38,962 $11,382 65%
19Randall University (OK)39%14%644% $35,840 $31,184 $14,920 56%
20Wayland Baptist University (TX)52%-5%3146% $41,635 $38,903 $15,647 57%
21Northeastern State University (OK)*43%-11%14942% $36,021 $34,860 $7,779 56%
22University of Houston–Downtown (TX)*43%1%11051% $44,631 $43,430 $7,315 51%
23University of Texas–Arlington (TX)*54%-1%56743% $48,251 $50,004 $12,089 64%
24Tennessee Wesleyan University (TN)55%-19%3446% $38,100 $36,387 $8,259 67%
25University of North Texas (TX)*60%-4%85235% $44,527 $46,047 $10,532 65%
26John Brown University (AR)69%-16%7430% $47,218 $44,218 $17,427 79%
27Texas Woman's University (TX)*53%-18%17641% $45,574 $35,856 $7,646 64%
28Brescia University (KY)34%-30%1545% $39,577 $25,352 $10,784 62%
29William Carey University (MS)64%-5%4336% $35,419 $36,087 $18,083 57%
30Maryville College (TN)55%-10%6734% $37,569 $37,444 $15,381 76%
31University of Tennessee–Martin (TN)*50%-15%27741% $36,638 $35,345 $8,042 60%
32University of Texas–Permian Basin (TX)*47%-6%5046% $45,233 $46,143 $6,311 64%
33Arkansas Tech University (AR)*48%-11%27145% $34,651 $32,661 $10,709 55%
34LA State University–Baton Rouge (LA)*69%-15%58427% $48,899 $47,374 $10,918 77%
35Blue Mountain College (MS)59%-14%2337% $30,905 $31,378 $10,322 60%
36Midwestern State University (TX)*51%-10%10338% $40,806 $40,144 $7,760 64%
37Rust College (MS)44%3%4646% $23,870 $26,170 $9,675 27%
38Lincoln Memorial University (TN)57%-5%7442% $38,263 $38,705 $13,447 63%
39Harding University (AR)64%3%17721% $40,238 $40,199 $15,079 76%
40University of Arkansas—Monticello (AR)*36%-5%6352% $32,049 $28,546 $10,366 44%
41Grambling State University (LA)*46%-6%18742% $28,839 $29,910 $17,217 41%
42St. Edward's University (TX)66%-2%18130% $46,266 $47,377 $17,802 70%
43Tarleton State University (TX)*50%-5%24443% $42,391 $40,458 $14,758 65%
44Rice University (TX)92%-5%14013% $66,287 $74,277 $7,624 91%
45Texas State University–San Marcos (TX)*63%-8%79036% $45,450 $44,851 $11,918 64%
46East Central University (OK)*43%-15%7746% $36,365 $33,795 $6,563 53%
47Northwestern OK State University (OK)*42%-8%3742% $36,582 $36,187 $6,880 64%
48University of Texas–Austin (TX)*80%-11%146326% $56,698 $61,449 $13,315 82%
49Nicholls State University (LA)*47%-15%13147% $36,975 $39,918 $10,070 71%
50Tusculum College (TN)50%-12%7845% $38,781 $36,498 $16,186 58%
51LeMoyne-Owen College (TN)22%-7%2147% $27,531 $23,802 $9,132 20%
52Oral Roberts University (OK)45%1%8730% $37,077 $37,172 $18,423 67%
53Mississippi University for Women (MS)*57%-13%5038% $34,546 $35,566 $10,152 58%
54University of the Cumberlands (KY)52%7%10545% $33,797 $39,122 $16,706 62%
55Oklahoma Baptist University (OK)52%-15%8726% $38,944 $36,853 $14,679 75%
56University of Oklahoma–Norman (OK)*65%-16%51229% $49,868 $46,406 $14,954 75%
57Middle Tennessee State University (TN)*51%-7%70036% $38,044 $37,523 $10,543 58%
58St. Mary's University (TX)60%-10%19642% $47,045 $49,910 $15,484 67%
59University of Arkansas–Pine Bluff (AR)*30%-16%13339% $27,764 $28,248 $7,898 35%
60Mid-America Christian University (OK)41%-4%1750% $39,262 $35,667 $18,683 51%
61Southwestern University (TX)73%-9%6223% $51,682 $48,603 $19,067 87%
62Southeastern Louisiana University (LA)*42%-11%28741% $36,721 $39,713 $10,338 69%
63Tougaloo College (MS)47%-19%7028% $27,705 $25,755 $11,888 41%
64Oklahoma State University–Main (OK)*61%-17%45329% $46,058 $45,347 $10,984 72%
65Southwestern Christian University (OK)36%-8%1547% $29,491 $33,534 $10,447 54%
66Dillard University (LA)42%-13%11637% $34,780 $33,871 $17,585 52%
67West Texas A&M University (TX)*50%-13%18740% $42,075 $40,510 $10,835 65%
68Texas Tech University (TX)*63%-11%61930% $50,435 $47,877 $13,375 74%
69Jackson State University (MS)*48%-7%25032% $30,205 $30,590 $13,753 39%
70Belhaven University (MS)47%-13%3339% $37,813 $34,378 $16,344 55%
71Milligan College (TN)62%-12%4130%N/A $43,196 $16,938 72%
72Texas A&M University–Commerce (TX)*59%-10%12343% $38,865 $38,395 $8,602 50%
73Northwestern State University of LA (LA)*44%-10%14142% $34,803 $37,935 $10,675 61%
74University of Texas–San Antonio (TX)*43%-2%74339% $45,093 $45,713 $10,333 62%
75University of Texas–Tyler (TX)*52%-3%7639% $44,075 $48,025 $11,099 66%
76Southern University–New Orleans (LA)*26%0%2150% $29,505 $35,960 $7,902 51%
77Sul Ross State University (TX)*37%-6%4747% $38,633 $34,493 $12,709 49%
78Georgetown College (KY)64%-9%6729% $42,589 $41,121 $16,919 77%
79Bethel University (TN)37%-2%8354% $38,150 $37,791 $15,271 43%
80LA State University–Shreveport (LA)*37%-8%4540% $36,492 $38,095 $7,922 60%
81Christian Brothers University (TN)56%-18%6035% $46,001 $46,056 $8,262 59%
82LeTourneau University (TX)55%-12%6433% $49,251 $45,609 $18,853 65%
83Texas Lutheran University (TX)47%-13%7936% $45,660 $44,600 $16,917 71%
84Texas College (TX)31%7%2646% $24,822 $31,585 $14,407 24%
85Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OK)*37%9%1243% $36,471 $43,010 $11,233 57%
86University of Science & Arts of Okla. (OK)*44%-17%2043% $32,663 $31,820 $6,305 61%
87Mississippi Valley State University (MS)*42%-3%8442% $23,368 $29,370 $12,661 37%
88Xavier University of Louisiana (LA)45%-12%15830% $49,270 $45,350 $15,935 55%
89Prairie View A&M University (TX)*43%-9%40435% $35,607 $38,296 $9,712 37%
90Alcorn State University (MS)*46%-12%15133% $31,380 $30,281 $14,947 33%
91Thomas More College (KY)52%-14%3839% $48,601 $44,793 $16,756 68%
92University of Houston (TX)*54%-3%77540% $51,264 $56,196 $13,023 67%
93Murray State University (KY)*58%-21%22135% $36,932 $39,146 $8,886 66%
94East Texas Baptist University (TX)43%-10%4434% $39,569 $35,051 $18,460 62%
95Philander Smith College (AR)43%-25%4543% $24,854 $29,599 $15,847 46%
96Cameron University (OK)*27%-9%5948% $34,542 $33,031 $8,569 51%
97University of St. Thomas (TX)55%-3%4336% $49,691 $50,162 $16,951 65%
98Kentucky State University (KY)*24%-4%7040% $29,139 $28,096 $7,888 30%
99Jarvis Christian College (TX)19%4%1842% $25,710 $24,450 $16,354 25%
100University of Central Oklahoma (OK)*43%-11%20937% $39,344 $40,274 $11,462 63%
101Tennessee State University (TN)*43%-13%27438% $35,719 $34,101 $10,356 37%
102University of Tennessee (TN)*69%-14%75125% $44,577 $48,213 $15,206 74%
103University of Louisiana–Lafayette (LA)*52%-14%41738% $39,373 $42,163 $9,659 69%
104Howard Payne University (TX)44%-8%5139% $36,817 $37,106 $17,926 60%
105Schreiner University (TX)45%-1%5336% $39,054 $43,446 $16,058 63%
106Martin Methodist College (TN)38%3%5844% $31,347 $29,761 $19,616 47%
107Ouachita Baptist University (AR)60%-15%7721% $40,075 $39,351 $16,048 73%
108Southern Arkansas University–Main Campus (AR)*37%-13%10743% $35,555 $35,126 $11,209 53%
109Centre College (KY)83%-3%5116% $45,297 $51,360 $17,518 86%
110Bellarmine University (KY)66%-9%10025% $47,116 $46,172 $21,817 79%
111Eastern Kentucky University (KY)*47%-21%32440% $35,807 $36,263 $10,015 58%
112University of the Ozarks (AR)47%-21%3537% $36,009 $37,767 $14,039 66%
113University of Southern Mississippi (MS)*54%-23%28732% $36,894 $35,023 $11,959 60%
114University of Pikeville (KY)49%-8%6549% $30,182 $34,394 $16,442 54%
115Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OK)22%-7%3744% $49,455 $41,179 $22,114 68%
116Central Baptist College (AR)41%-8%1139% $33,949 $36,818 $14,954 60%
117University of Louisiana–Monroe (LA)*37%-14%19538% $37,809 $39,116 $8,583 62%
118Union University (TN)65%-6%9433% $42,169 $49,219 $21,608 72%
119Austin Peay State University (TN)*40%-17%21641% $35,259 $37,025 $11,202 51%
120Tennessee Technological University (TN)*57%-18%30738% $39,309 $41,202 $12,565 68%
121Lee University (TN)53%-8%17035% $34,388 $38,292 $16,741 65%
122McNeese State University (LA)*45%-16%16939% $37,950 $40,637 $9,197 61%
123Kentucky Wesleyan College (KY)34%-7%3436% $36,523 $36,712 $15,360 65%
124Southern Methodist University (TX)79%-5%16318% $58,782 $60,263 $22,079 80%
125University of Texas–Dallas (TX)*69%-6%30331% $52,430 $64,517 $10,721 71%
126University of Louisville (KY)*54%-10%42331% $40,948 $44,385 $13,601 67%
127McMurry University (TX)41%-13%4838% $40,027 $39,483 $19,821 61%
128University of Kentucky (KY)*60%-18%53325% $44,368 $42,683 $14,647 70%
129University of Central Arkansas (AR)*48%-20%25634% $38,157 $36,578 $12,486 61%
130Northern Kentucky University (KY)*44%-16%26440% $37,496 $40,271 $6,507 61%
131Alice Lloyd College (KY)36%11%1746% $33,294 $36,152 $11,877 58%
132Transylvania University (KY)72%-10%5518% $42,723 $44,150 $18,837 82%
133University of Mary Hardin–Baylor (TX)52%-15%9932% $43,554 $41,181 $20,810 68%
134Williams Baptist University (AR)45%0%3234% $33,317 $35,728 $14,649 64%
135University of the Incarnate Word (TX)53%-8%21245% $45,797 $46,391 $19,162 56%
136Trevecca Nazarene University (TN)60%-17%4636% $40,662 $46,530 $15,713 70%
137Paul Quinn College (TX)11%-5%747% $27,962 $26,927 $13,585 27%
138Sewanee: The University of the South (TN)78%-8%5315% $43,891 $48,244 $16,475 85%
139Oklahoma City University (OK)62%-1%4927% $42,281 $44,095 $23,414 71%
140Henderson State University (AR)*38%-13%13940% $35,815 $34,153 $13,268 54%
141Stephen F. Austin State University (TX)*49%-15%42036% $41,310 $39,851 $10,619 59%
142Campbellsville University (KY)41%-13%8744% $33,461 $33,201 $16,331 55%
143University of Memphis (TN)*49%-11%50137% $37,290 $38,009 $12,419 44%
144Southwestern Adventist University (TX)26%-3%2833% $40,850 $37,802 $18,613 59%
145East Tennessee State University (TN)*50%-18%31738% $35,671 $35,587 $13,729 59%
146Austin College (TX)75%-9%6924% $48,991 $53,008 $17,410 79%
147Midway University (KY)50%-16%4349% $36,361 $35,703 $20,439 55%
148Hardin-Simmons University (TX)54%-16%5835% $41,802 $41,507 $21,684 71%
149Millsaps College (MS)65%12%3517% $47,795 $51,037 $17,532 73%
150Concordia University–Texas (TX)43%-2%3136% $43,027 $46,461 $19,305 63%
151University of Mississippi (MS)*62%-17%45023% $42,439 $44,280 $12,317 67%
152Cumberland University (TN)52%-8%3642% $39,242 $42,870 $18,220 61%
153Delta State University (MS)*43%-20%5033% $34,607 $29,936 $11,692 54%
154Bacone College (OK)^23%-3%1044% $32,716 $29,484 $24,984 40%
155Rhodes College (TN)80%-11%6711% $53,774 $56,074 $18,970 89%
156Huston-Tillotson University (TX)35%-8%3444% $31,386 $35,547 $16,696 33%
157Loyola University–New Orleans (LA)62%-13%12420% $46,097 $47,887 $19,149 74%
158Southwestern OK State University (OK)*41%-16%7342% $39,021 $40,683 $9,921 59%
159Kentucky Christian University (KY)33%-3%2537% $32,297 $35,270 $17,873 63%
160Angelo State University (TX)*37%-15%20341% $39,731 $42,311 $11,169 61%
161Louisiana Tech University (LA)*51%-17%20530% $41,944 $46,934 $8,371 72%
162Arkansas State University (AR)*46%-16%29340% $32,607 $34,956 $11,672 53%
163Western Kentucky University (KY)*49%-19%37437% $34,951 $35,742 $11,432 54%
164Texas A&M University–Kingsville (TX)*45%-10%23348% $41,504 $46,758 $11,198 52%
165Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi (TX)*48%-8%20740% $43,154 $43,933 $15,099 61%
166Our Lady of the Lake University–San Antonio (TX)43%4%7844% $39,021 $43,382 $16,474 49%
167Carson-Newman College (TN)49%-15%7032% $36,902 $37,103 $14,871 68%
168Asbury University (KY)60%-19%5726% $34,946 $37,872 $24,059 79%
169Texas Wesleyan University (TX)53%-2%2846% $42,506 $40,765 $25,462 51%
170Lane College (TN)31%-17%11448% $25,562 $25,952 $12,750 16%
171Lamar University (TX)*40%-15%20442% $40,319 $39,184 $11,509 49%
172Lindsey Wilson College (KY)41%-12%11246% $28,251 $32,233 $15,376 46%
173Texas Christian University (TX)76%-12%16119% $52,436 $53,119 $24,397 84%
174Belmont University (TN)70%-9%11517% $43,816 $46,136 $27,420 82%
175Abilene Christian University (TX)60%-15%11726% $42,433 $44,607 $22,636 74%
176University of Arkansas (AR)*62%-19%45727% $45,050 $48,535 $13,360 70%
177University of Tennessee–Chattanooga (TN)*47%-11%27629% $37,848 $41,323 $11,433 59%
178Union College (KY)37%-15%3142% $32,609 $31,897 $17,440 51%
179University of New Orleans (LA)*39%-8%14140% $38,792 $47,747 $9,261 65%
180Mississippi State University (MS)*63%-23%42324% $40,981 $45,207 $14,610 69%
181Langston University (OK)*26%-14%1641% $28,639 $29,912 $12,857 32%
182Lyon College (AR)49%-12%3635% $39,400 $41,965 $14,263 64%
183Morehead State University (KY)*45%-24%19144% $32,640 $36,306 $10,520 50%
184University of Arkansas–Little Rock (AR)*35%-15%11141% $35,103 $42,001 $12,628 54%
185University of Dallas (TX)67%-20%5815% $47,029 $49,813 $20,192 80%
186Freed-Hardeman University (TN)54%-20%7020% $37,348 $41,368 $15,821 70%
187Fisk University (TN)38%5%4628% $34,424 $37,416 $24,290 41%
188Southern Adventist University (TN)62%-19%8720% $38,517 $43,769 $17,891 71%
189Dallas Baptist University (TX)58%-3%5732% $43,679 $46,642 $22,326 62%
190Oklahoma Christian University (OK)50%-15%5818% $38,465 $44,702 $14,875 75%
191Lubbock Christian University (TX)52%-22%3937% $40,375 $44,855 $19,925 67%
192Houston Baptist University (TX)41%-15%10137% $45,812 $46,027 $19,459 56%
193Tulane University (LA)58%-9%14520% $58,396 $63,466 $20,003 75%
194Baylor University (TX)72%-13%46719% $50,899 $57,228 $28,484 78%
195Mississippi College (MS)54%-15%9123% $38,729 $43,343 $14,885 61%
196Hendrix College (AR)67%-13%5716% $40,939 $49,510 $19,386 79%
197Centenary College of Louisiana (LA)54%-26%3225% $43,487 $41,612 $22,198 70%
198Free Will Baptist Bible College (TN)36%-26%637% $30,776 $33,552 $19,470 53%
199Southwestern Assemb. of God University (TX)41%-22%4237% $34,253 $37,160 $24,033 57%
200University of Tulsa (OK)69%-15%7621% $46,954 $61,319 $20,787 77%
201Texas Southern University (TX)*25%-10%16240% $31,532 $35,476 $19,278 31%
202Lipscomb University (TN)61%-23%9022% $41,388 $48,933 $21,576 75%
203Spalding University (KY)43%-38%2739% $44,264 $43,040 $19,182 54%
Definitions:
Median earnings: median annual earnings 10 years after entering college.
Pell/non-Pell graduation gap: graduation rate for Pell students minus the graduation rate for non-Pell students; a positive number indicates that students who receive Pell grants graduate at a higher rate than those who don’t, and vice versa.
First-gen students: percent of students who are the first in their family to go to college.
Predicted median earnings: expected median annual earnings based on student demographic data, adjusted for institutions’ location and academic mission.
Net price: actual cost of attendance for first-time, full-time, in-state students with family incomes below $75,000 per year over the last three years.
Loan repayment rate: percent of students who pay back at least $1 in loan principal within 5 years of leaving college.
* = public
° = for-profit