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2020-09-15 -Washington Banner Ad

2020 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 earnings 10 years after entering collegePredicted median earnings 10 yrs after entering collegeNet price of attendance for families below $75,000 income% repaying $1 in loan principal 5 yrs after leaving coll.
1Berea College (KY)65%-27%23339%3366626938214969%
2Texas A&M University–College Station (TX)*81%-6%146330%56961543201315685%
3Univ. of Texas–Rio Grande Valley (TX)*50%-4%90454%4141539699329858%
4Texas A&M University–Texarkana (TX)*63%-6%2747%3600834158967859%
5Rust College (MS)24%40%8646%2371926531990027%
6Texas A&M International Univ. (TX)*51%-1%29649%4519242948476957%
7King University (TN)72%-12%3651%42179393881898270%
8Vanderbilt University (TN)93%-4%19712%6605565119636389%
9Tougaloo College (MS)46%-1%6729%27298241631230541%
10Southern Nazarene University (OK)40%16%6137%47547437841470470%
11University of Houston–Victoria (TX)*61%-3%2346%4059041922896062%
12Tennessee Wesleyan University (TN)54%-16%3244%3824933217838267%
13Southeastern OK State Univ. (OK)*37%-10%8346%3549632142740357%
14University of Texas–El Paso (TX)*50%-8%68441%4016536646698957%
15Trinity University (TX)81%-10%8018%55655548161463992%
16Univ. of Houston–Downtown (TX)*42%3%14952%4434143384744851%
17University of Texas–Arlington (TX)*55%0%57443%48084512341147664%
18Sam Houston State University (TX)*59%-10%43242%43654398761125065%
19University of Holy Cross (LA)34%12%747%40585410171312467%
20John Brown University (AR)69%-15%6729%47225442501831379%
21Oklahoma Baptist University (OK)59%-16%8726%38812341271559675%
22Northeastern State University (OK)*41%-15%13742%3604534128794656%
23Alcorn State University (MS)*42%4%17333%31179294261477633%
24Wiley College (TX) ^^33%0%3045%26823206411454531%
25University of North Texas (TX)*61%-6%87235%44442461761053665%
26Dillard University (LA)40%-8%11036%34366316331726252%
27Tarleton State University (TX)*52%-6%26843%42439397351542665%
28Southwestern Christian University (OK) ^^44%2%1545%28454339651034454%
29Univ. of Texas–Permian Basin (TX)*47%-2%5346%4528846631833364%
30Bryan College (TN)55%-8%4238%37569402351385276%
31University of Tennessee–Martin (TN)*50%-16%27941%3635435423887760%
32Randall University (OK)38%5%543%35754296431562056%
33Alice Lloyd College (KY)39%0%4646%32864312621240558%
34Maryville College (TN)54%-7%7533%37657401741624076%
35East Central University (OK)*40%-14%7946%3620632993759553%
36Midwestern State University (TX)*50%-10%9538%4053139117826264%
37Rice University (TX)92%-4%15214%6610673647802391%
38Texas Woman's University (TX)*53%-18%21641%4537938773763764%
39LA State University–Baton Rouge (LA)*68%-15%62427%48823458381198877%
40Grambling State University (LA)*49%-6%20041%28769302721808241%
41William Carey University (MS)66%-7%5936%35440377911870957%
42Mid-America Christian University (OK)43%2%1650%39365386251629751%
43LeTourneau University (TX)54%-3%5634%49092452521945665%
44Mississippi Valley State Univ. (MS)*49%4%8842%23316305911431137%
45Louisiana College (LA)42%-16%3637%41644366011319868%
46Brescia University (KY)34%-19%2045%39132324291134262%
47University of Texas–Austin (TX)*80%-11%150026%56510617911313482%
48University of Texas–Tyler (TX)*52%0%9339%43800489881054666%
49Nicholls State University (LA)*46%-19%13047%36920393191017671%
50Sul Ross State University (TX)*36%0%4347%38332342611358949%
51Wayland Baptist University (TX)46%-11%3246%41390396961742457%
52Oklahoma Panhandle State Univ. (OK)*37%5%1442%36448398421022257%
53University of Oklahoma–Norman (OK)*65%-16%53629%49844462291624375%
54University of Arkansas–Pine Bluff (AR)*29%-13%12939%2760928351880235%
55Howard Payne University (TX)44%7%6538%37019371611936360%
56Northwestern State Univ. of LA (LA)*42%-10%19142%34619376771096061%
57Centre College (KY)85%4%51N/A45229495651745286%
58Southeastern Louisiana Univ. (LA)*42%-15%28441%36751388391086769%
59Texas Tech University (TX)*62%-11%58031%50426471891340174%
60Blue Mountain College (MS)56%-22%1737%30862315791038260%
61West Texas A&M University (TX)*51%-13%17740%41888410541069765%
62University of Texas–San Antonio (TX)*45%-1%75839%45059456911091362%
63Tusculum College (TN)48%-15%5545%38567370121553158%
64Oklahoma State University–Main (OK)*62%-18%52429%45804451791100172%
65LeMoyne-Owen College (TN)23%-14%1647%2779522273920020%
66Thomas More College (KY)50%-11%4138%48113442241643368%
67Northwestern OK State Univ. (OK)*35%-10%3942%3655536106749464%
68Texas Lutheran University (TX)49%-12%7236%45505428191710571%
69Milligan University (TN)64%-12%38N/AN/A417061791872%
70Bethel University (TN)43%-6%9153%38419386051450243%
71Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OK)43%-20%2043%49705401282401468%
72University of the Ozarks (AR)44%-14%3236%37196343701416066%
73St. Edward's University (TX)64%-8%17031%46454472811885370%
74Arkansas Tech University (AR)*45%-20%24445%34348323191133055%
75Texas State Univ.–San Marcos (TX)*62%-11%79036%45432456871218464%
76University of St. Thomas (TX)57%-5%5237%49794502101630165%
77Jarvis Christian College (TX)23%-3%2144%25661246261443425%
78Rogers State University (OK)*25%-11%2443%33416293631241056%
79University of Houston (TX)*54%-3%80740%51183558091368267%
80St. Mary's University (TX)60%-14%18341%46837496261578267%
81LA State University–Shreveport (LA)*36%-11%3540%3612137907844160%
82Jackson State University (MS)*47%-8%25632%30055314981374139%
83Middle Tennessee State University (TN)*49%-10%63936%37973379811095358%
84East Texas Baptist University (TX)43%-8%5134%39637354241860362%
85University of Central Oklahoma (OK)*43%-11%22637%39317394271283763%
86Oral Roberts University (OK)43%-10%7730%36613354111860667%
87Southwestern University (TX)74%-8%6322%51496507222028787%
88University of Tennessee (TN)*69%-12%80525%44510494111539774%
89Cameron University (OK)*24%-10%5947%3444632666831251%
90University of the Cumberlands (KY)52%-2%8643%33744366961725762%
91University of Southern Mississippi (MS)*53%-22%33032%36798338351249460%
92Mississippi Univ. for Women (MS)*57%-28%3838%34312342781012458%
93Southern Univ. and A&M College (LA)*36%-23%14240%34577359061415354%
94Murray State University (KY)*56%-22%24235%36789389729654.36666%
95Lincoln Memorial University (TN)53%-9%5542%379834051014067.7563%
96Austin Peay State University (TN)*40%-16%20741%351283530011534.8951%
97Bellarmine University (KY)66%-7%10326%470894691421678.1679%
98Univ. of Arkansas–Fort Smith (AR)*32%-14%11549%31416351929090.14451%
99Ouachita Baptist University (AR)63%-19%6322%398053974916564.3473%
100Xavier University of Louisiana (LA)43%-15%14629%491724488116698.8855%
101Eastern Kentucky University (KY)*47%-21%32940%357323582310803.1258%
102Tennessee Technological Univ. (TN)*57%-14%33038%390214121713270.9868%
103Southwestern Adventist University (TX)41%-2%3133%405943884218631.0759%
104Texas A&M University–Commerce (TX)*58%-11%14443%38725391449813.11850%
105Schreiner University (TX)48%-8%5237%392604003016823.1363%
106Transylvania University (KY)73%-6%6318%426944389419787.582%
107Asbury University (KY)63%-8%6725%352613792624629.4679%
108Prairie View A&M University (TX)*42%-14%37035%356333822110183.6637%
109Texas College (TX)25%11%1846%248303091816820.6824%
110Georgetown College (KY)61%-11%5031%421624214117061.477%
111University of Texas–Dallas (TX)*70%-6%30231%523706416810976.2871%
112Trevecca Nazarene University (TN)57%-14%4437%405714454516480.0470%
113Sewanee–University of the South (TN)79%-4%6714%430994841816649.5585%
114Austin College (TX)74%-2%6824%491225489117170.9679%
115Stephen F. Austin State Univ. (TX)*48%-11%45436%41173400239707.95359%
116McMurry University (TX)40%-11%4838%397733800520083.3961%
117University of Kentucky (KY)*62%-18%55925%442354213915141.5370%
118Southern Univ. at New Orleans (LA)*27%-14%2550%29281351758358.57751%
119McNeese State University (LA)*45%-18%17039%380133986810254.3561%
120Philander Smith College (AR)42%-36%4043%246812877315372.7146%
121Univ. of Science & Arts of Okla. (OK)*45%-24%1643%32784315256694.57461%
122Univ. of Arkansas—Monticello (AR)*34%-21%5449%317952922410362.844%
123Lindsey Wilson College (KY)45%-7%11146%280373035315287.4646%
124Christian Brothers University (TN)50%-19%6335%45630475269180.39359%
125Cumberland University (TN)58%-10%3742%392154199519895.4361%
126Lane College (TN)31%-2%9347%249832722012645.7316%
127University of Central Arkansas (AR)*46%-19%28835%380143687213058.6761%
128Henderson State University (AR)*38%-10%13539%357723391615494.8654%
129University of Pikeville (KY)54%-14%6148%298013406516378.0454%
130Kentucky State University (KY)*25%-10%5540%29173296828126.34130%
131LA State Univ.–Alexandria (LA)*28%-17%644%33659335417728.17159%
132Southwestern OK State Univ. (OK)*38%-13%9142%390683960110106.6859%
133Belhaven University (MS)39%-16%3739%373763660416268.555%
134So. Arkansas Univ.–Campus (AR)*40%-17%9742%353943636511909.6353%
135Union University (TN)65%-6%8833%421555021322773.0772%
136University of the Incarnate Word (TX)54%-6%21445%456644628320025.7156%
137Rhodes College (TN)80%-9%7212%527545558218273.0389%
138Northern Kentucky University (KY)*44%-18%22939%37335394836615.17461%
139Our Lady of the Lake U.–San Antonio (TX)47%3%7545%391704164616758.9249%
140University of Louisville (KY)*54%-13%38231%410344380913814.0867%
141Delta State University (MS)*41%-17%5733%345233365811633.9854%
142Kentucky Wesleyan College (KY)39%-14%2737%359373749518066.765%
143Angelo State University (TX)*39%-13%19541%396094225210166.5261%
144University of Louisiana–Monroe (LA)*42%-20%19538%37748400799469.162%
145East Tennessee State University (TN)*50%-19%32238%355733693312258.6759%
146University of Louisiana at Lafayette (LA)*52%-20%36938%393024437710061.1569%
147Midway University (KY)48%-15%1447%363743547621128.5255%
148Martin Methodist College (TN)36%-12%5243%318732974019316.6847%
149Central Baptist College (AR)37%-13%637%341183684815202.5860%
150University of Memphis (TN)*49%-17%43437%372663706712206.0244%
151Loyola University–New Orleans (LA)62%-15%14220%464444622518229.1274%
152Lee University (TN)53%-16%14233%343773789816357.1265%
153Carson-Newman College (TN)51%-13%8433%369743635716129.5468%
154Bacone College (OK) ^^24%-6%1145%326152682524209.9840%
155Paul Quinn College (TX)11%-19%847%27878255479418.86227%
156University of Mississippi (MS)*63%-19%43623%423014440212034.5267%
157Univ. of Mary Hardin–Baylor (TX)51%-20%9132%432144117921156.4468%
158Morehead State University (KY)*46%-19%25043%324623575010740.0850%
159Hardin-Simmons University (TX)53%-23%4534%416724150618533.7771%
160Southern Methodist University (TX)79%-10%13817%587176092223611.3380%
161Concordia University–Texas (TX)45%-5%3037%426254691119861.6963%
162Oklahoma City University (OK)64%-8%4127%419234555022383.0471%
163Arkansas State Univ. (AR)*46%-16%29039%325423570711939.653%
164Harding University (AR)64%-21%14621%399814043015777.1876%
165Louisiana Tech University (LA)*50%-17%17431%41936468438512.68272%
166Williams Baptist University (AR)43%-4%3033%331523608015654.7864%
167Univ. of Tennessee–Chattanooga (TN)*47%-10%31529%378773965411510.8459%
168Hendrix College (AR)80%-13%4817%411314898317250.0479%
169Tennessee State University (TN)*41%-25%22538%355373516010226.537%
170Huston-Tillotson University (TX)30%-13%2744%317633173516653.2233%
171Texas Christian University (TX)75%-9%15119%519655419425381.1584%
172Belmont University (TN)71%-8%12116%438674651628231.7882%
173Crowley's Ridge College (AR)28%2%10N/A292153057014102.5443%
174Abilene Christian University (TX)61%-16%11726%423994437723901.474%
175Western Kentucky University (KY)*48%-21%36237%348203576212042.1854%
176University of Arkansas (AR)*63%-20%48827%447234881713494.1270%
177Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi (TX)*47%-8%23640%429144462615395.561%
178Kentucky Christian University (KY)31%-7%2934%322333752817700.1263%
179Lamar University (TX)*39%-17%19442%403083960711363.849%
180Campbellsville University (KY)39%-25%8145%333503319016453.7755%
181University of New Orleans (LA)*40%-11%12640%38744473449830.4865%
182Mississippi State University (MS)*62%-24%41324%410564487014868.4169%
183Langston University (OK)*24%-13%1740%282953010913196.4932%
184Texas Wesleyan University (TX)51%-5%2847%426524214924406.0251%
185University of Dallas (TX)68%-20%4716%465195067518391.7880%
186Texas A&M University–Kingsville (TX)*44%-14%22647%413034714511860.9352%
187Lubbock Christian University (TX)51%-19%4236%408234450220710.4267%
188Freed-Hardeman University (TN)55%-22%5620%372714143415636.6370%
189Southern Adventist University (TN)61%-12%7619%383574431119810.9671%
190Dallas Baptist University (TX)59%-9%5332%436044436423008.4162%
191Tulane University (LA)69%-7%13320%580856412920421.5875%
192Union College (KY)34%-20%2642%323053195517499.6851%
193Oklahoma Christian University (OK)50%-16%5118%381864501115491.0575%
194Lyon College (AR)43%-10%3233%400704472514558.9364%
195Houston Baptist University (TX)39%-16%9337%464244594619555.9656%
196Millsaps College (MS)67%-12%2917%476445145619084.1973%
197Welch College (TN)35%-16%11N/A302313476319928.3253%
198Southwestern Assemb. of God U. (TX)41%-21%4337%341513644124172.2357%
199Baylor University (TX)72%-11%42419%507705811227611.9878%
200Centenary College of Louisiana (LA)50%-22%3124%442274187922050.0270%
201Spalding University (KY)46%-22%2938%444044359820701.8654%
202Lipscomb University (TN)59%-19%8923%411574881521631.6975%
203Texas Southern University (TX)*25%-9%18040%314173671119521.2231%
204University of Arkansas at Little Rock (AR)*37%-36%7840%348194128712451.1554%
205University of Tulsa (OK)70%-21%6122%466746156219913.9477%
206Mississippi College (MS)54%-22%7324%389074503715412.8161%
207Fisk University (TN)39%-21%4028%342653694228168.4641%
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