2021 Best Bang for the Buck Rankings: Southeast

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 graduatesActual vs. predicted Pell enrollmentPercent of graduates above 150% of poverty lineNet price of attendance for families below $75,000 incomePercent of loan principal remaining 5 years laterPredicted principal remaining
1Univ. of South FL at Sarasota-Manatee (FL)*68%10%169%83%3728101%98%
2University of Florida (FL)*87%-4%16387%85%499582%76%
3James Madison University (VA)*83%-6%430-8%90%1578062%71%
4Washington and Lee University (VA)91%-1%450%90%418749%53%
5Duke University (NC)96%0%2170%87%85055%53%
6Appalachian State University (NC)*73%-7%4630%86%1017472%79%
7University of NC at Chapel Hill (NC)*90%-4%7084%85%717065%68%
8VA Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ. (VA)*85%-6%628-6%91%1501160%68%
9Citadel: The Military College of SC (SC)*73%-10%96-10%94%1276575%78%
10Bob Jones University (SC)63%-8%18510%76%1151157%90%
11Florida International University (FL)*64%0%133415%80%8247104%110%
12Georgetown University (DC)94%-2%205-3%86%1064457%64%
13University of Richmond (VA)84%1%1043%86%1128065%62%
14Georgia Institute of Technology at Main (GA)*87%-7%346-1%92%1124956%58%
15University of Virginia (VA)*94%-3%374-4%86%1134956%61%
16University of South Carolina at Upstate (SC)*53%-3%170-5%87%14035102%102%
17College of William and Mary (VA)*92%-2%130-4%84%680160%64%
18Elizabeth City State University (NC)*42%-3%12110%74%1928120%121%
19Radford University (VA)*63%-4%294-2%89%1391781%87%
20North Carolina State Univ. (NC)*78%-8%6560%88%1047267%71%
21Tuskegee University (AL)73%50%270-1%85%34215122%116%
22Winston-Salem State University (NC)*59%-6%25510%87%11172120%123%
23University of Central Florida (FL)*72%-4%13198%83%1065394%93%
24Florida State University (FL)*80%-5%12974%84%878191%82%
25Western Carolina University (NC)*62%-5%3512%86%1242286%87%
26East Carolina University (NC)*65%-8%806-2%89%1283786%93%
27University of NC at Greensboro (NC)*58%-3%61510%83%1015494%104%
28University of South Florida at Main (FL)*73%-2%10757%83%7531101%90%
29University of Mary Washington (VA)*71%-2%90-8%86%1550570%76%
30Virginia Military Institute (VA)*77%-7%44-16%93%837356%59%
31North Carolina Wesleyan College (NC)61%-3%40-2%84%13795112%112%
32Longwood University (VA)*67%-7%154-14%88%1595075%84%
33Bennett College (NC)47%13%728%83%20280128%134%
34George Mason University (VA)*73%-4%4803%86%1719877%81%
35Univ. of NC at Pembroke (NC)*45%-3%2388%80%10525103%109%
36Voorhees College (SC)34%15%5521%76%17284128%134%
37Florida Gulf Coast University (FL)*58%-5%398-2%86%1124893%86%
38Florida Atlantic University (FL)*62%1%6554%81%7710102%102%
39Wake Forest University (NC)88%-4%109-9%85%1132562%64%
40Virginia State University (VA)*50%-9%31118%83%15195122%130%
41University of Georgia (GA)*84%-8%9101%85%1145881%72%
42Bethune-Cookman University (FL)38%-4%26023%79%16262131%130%
43Davidson College (NC)92%-3%53-5%78%881965%58%
44Wheeling Jesuit University (WV)61%-6%34-10%87%1490784%89%
45George Washington University (DC)83%-3%236-5%88%1869866%70%
46Clemson University (SC)*81%-14%366-3%91%1547569%69%
47Trinity Washington University (DC)42%-2%7010%85%15147119%128%
48Univ. of S. Florida at St. Petersburg (FL)*52%-2%887%83%9195101%94%
49Old Dominion University (VA)*58%-8%4321%85%1319198%104%
50Emory University (GA)91%-3%2252%80%1324964%62%
51Elon University (NC)83%-2%103-16%88%2497160%71%
52Georgia Gwinnett College (GA)*26%-3%1839%81%11876112%105%
53University of West Florida (FL)*56%-9%22810%81%688398%88%
54Christopher Newport Univ. (VA)*73%-6%139-12%87%1947972%71%
55Georgia State University (GA)*57%0%94115%78%13600111%108%
56Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte (NC)*58%-5%6515%86%1345591%87%
57Fayetteville State University (NC)*44%-1%1721%76%5226120%119%
58Newberry College (SC)52%-2%65-3%85%17890103%96%
59Flagler College at St. Augustine (FL)63%-2%111-10%81%1963489%82%
60Francis Marion University (SC)*54%-4%1885%84%11223115%105%
61North Carolina Central Univ. (NC)*45%-5%41310%81%12941125%121%
62Claflin University (SC)50%-13%15516%77%19096127%129%
63University of North Florida (FL)*67%-4%281-2%83%852594%89%
64Univ. of Virginia's College at Wise (VA)*45%-3%77-8%81%958898%100%
65Wofford College (SC)80%1%72-6%84%1860569%62%
66North Carolina A&T State Univ. (NC)*46%-12%53212%84%9477119%127%
67FL Agricultural & Mechanical Univ. (FL)*50%-8%51213%84%14088122%130%
68Mars Hill University (NC)38%-9%7612%85%1576399%97%
69Georgia College & State Univ. (GA)*63%-6%147-7%88%1696882%76%
70Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville (NC)*63%-3%963%74%971588%81%
71Fort Valley State University (GA)*30%-1%1715%85%13390127%135%
72Covenant College (GA)65%-2%548%79%1951159%67%
73Dalton State College (GA)*25%-5%482%84%5686103%96%
74Savannah State University (GA)*31%-5%25329%82%9822127%124%
75Univ. of NC at Wilmington (NC)*73%-7%298-2%83%1488181%83%
76Presbyterian College (SC)67%-5%52-11%86%1610375%79%
77College of Charleston (SC)*67%-9%285-3%82%1682283%79%
78Norfolk State University (VA)*39%-5%17813%84%13025126%125%
79Mary Baldwin University (VA)48%-8%5716%84%15922104%112%
80University of South Carolina at Aiken (SC)*47%-10%89-9%84%13578103%99%
81Converse College (SC)55%-1%5411%81%1558493%92%
82Lees-McRae College (NC)52%-10%293%85%1788191%91%
83Eastern Mennonite University (VA)71%-21%35-8%86%2176469%85%
84Alabama A&M University (AL)*33%-7%17116%86%14581128%129%
85Clayton State University (GA)*40%-2%990%83%10385121%118%
86Virginia Commonwealth University (VA)*65%-5%6450%84%1789193%87%
87Catawba College (NC)52%-13%59-8%83%1726089%91%
88Auburn University (AL)*75%-14%339-4%89%2042779%77%
89Florida Memorial University (FL)42%-3%9612%75%16936132%126%
90Morris College (SC)30%-7%6124%75%16351127%135%
91Trinity Baptist College (FL)35%-11%112%76%1503784%102%
92University of Lynchburg (VA)61%-11%98-6%87%2009584%83%
93University of North Georgia (GA)*34%-7%143-8%84%878492%93%
94Rasmussen College at Florida (FL)°27%12%61%82%18159110%114%
95Lander University (SC)*47%-17%95-8%84%12872105%99%
96University of Mount Olive (NC)51%-13%45-2%84%14705110%111%
97Wingate University (NC)54%-12%970%87%1650984%92%
98Univ. of South Carolina at Columbia (SC)*70%-12%591-1%87%1546684%75%
99Columbia Southern University (AL)°49%-3%68-10%87%10071106%100%
100Bridgewater College (VA)61%-13%81-10%89%1672175%78%
101Miles College (AL)24%-9%8314%78%14971129%135%
102New College of Florida (FL)*67%-1%3811%62%738574%68%
103Virginia Union University (VA)33%2%8410%83%21080124%132%
104Alderson Broaddus University (WV)46%-17%49-8%86%1665492%96%
105Benedict College (SC)33%-11%16225%74%18115134%131%
106Middle Georgia State Univ. (GA)*24%-3%40-3%83%9118114%107%
107William Peace University (NC)50%-6%492%82%21224104%99%
108Piedmont College (GA)53%-9%463%86%1617299%93%
109West Virginia Univ. Inst. of Tech. (WV)*25%-12%25-8%86%868384%86%
110Reinhardt University (GA)45%-3%374%87%2089297%93%
111Winthrop University (SC)*58%-11%244-1%83%16511104%96%
112West Virginia University (WV)*59%-14%641-7%86%1035584%81%
113Jacksonville University (FL)50%-1%1051%88%2114499%90%
114Salem College (NC)56%-7%4917%72%1555399%97%
115Lenoir-Rhyne University (NC)51%-16%660%87%1800986%91%
116Berry College (GA)64%-12%992%81%1922973%74%
117Averett University (VA)44%-5%49-10%85%19344104%98%
118Bluefield State College (WV)*40%-22%186%89%8197115%95%
119GA Southwestern State Univ. (GA)*44%-9%46-4%86%11054110%101%
120Furman University (SC)82%-8%68-3%82%2023466%62%
121Ferrum College (VA)34%-10%898%82%21133100%103%
122Georgia Southern University (GA)*51%-8%7300%86%14313101%94%
123ECPI University (VA)°52%-8%6120%81%20268108%104%
124West Liberty University (WV)*49%-9%114-8%83%1198399%91%
125Coastal Carolina University (SC)*47%-8%324-4%82%1421196%88%
126Livingstone College (NC)29%-5%7311%74%17126130%135%
127Stillman College (AL)30%1%4912%74%15219129%135%
128LaGrange College (GA)48%-14%372%88%1986696%88%
129Shepherd University (WV)*48%-13%96-13%85%845995%89%
130Barton College (NC)50%-15%50-4%89%21522102%97%
131Marymount University (VA)64%-12%53-11%87%2298585%86%
132Saint Augustine's University (NC)33%-5%8112%77%23227128%132%
133Davis & Elkins College (WV)45%-14%28-13%86%1546496%90%
134Roanoke College (VA)67%-10%78-6%87%2179874%72%
135University of West Georgia (GA)*45%-6%438-3%84%14670107%110%
136South Carolina State University (SC)*39%-10%17214%82%20979129%133%
137American University (DC)79%-3%245-13%85%2540270%70%
138Warner University (FL)52%-17%259%75%15666115%108%
139Amridge University (AL)35%13%17%58%10948125%135%
140Valdosta State University (GA)*42%-11%3185%86%13261108%109%
141Kennesaw State University (GA)*48%-6%5572%85%16065101%95%
142University of Alabama at Birmingham (AL)*55%-13%29110%84%15928105%98%
143Columbus State University (GA)*36%-9%175-7%82%11112114%109%
144Columbia International University (SC)70%-11%20-9%64%1608184%100%
145Greensboro College (NC)40%-2%30-7%84%21587106%100%
146Emory and Henry College (VA)55%-16%494%85%1543183%80%
147Stetson University (FL)65%-9%1622%81%2385091%83%
148Concord University (WV)*39%-15%844%80%7903104%98%
149South Univ. at Virginia Beach (VA)°17%12%214%79%22147117%123%
150Bluefield College (VA)49%-21%134%85%2193799%97%
151North Greenville University (SC)54%-3%1138%78%2232590%82%
152Howard University (DC)61%8%4787%81%34075120%119%
153Saint Leo University (FL)42%-9%1192%83%16977116%110%
154Pfeiffer University (NC)51%-10%352%86%25840100%99%
155Ohio Valley University (WV)38%-15%16-2%86%16341101%92%
156Embry-Riddle Aero. U. at Dayt. Beach (FL)59%-15%146-1%92%2933987%80%
157Toccoa Falls College (GA)52%-9%45-13%70%2055586%92%
158Trinity International Univ. at Florida (FL)40%-23%0-8%75%1638399%117%
159Alabama State University (AL)*31%-17%27921%78%13025130%131%
160Warren Wilson College (NC)53%7%4312%64%2143073%75%
161University of Tampa (FL)58%-6%199-10%86%2724482%78%
162Auburn Univ. at Montgomery (AL)*33%-11%795%86%13178110%104%
163Chowan University (NC)27%-10%999%79%16333113%122%
164Univ. of the District of Columbia (DC)*26%-2%19-3%77%16375113%126%
165South University at Montgomery (AL)°21%4%13%79%20975117%131%
166Randolph-Macon College (VA)62%-8%65-11%88%2141075%71%
167Samford University (AL)70%-10%65-12%86%2455468%74%
168Columbia College (SC)48%-10%472%80%16671114%107%
169University of North Alabama (AL)*45%-17%1562%83%1191399%91%
170Albany State University (GA)*28%-11%186-9%82%12019125%128%
171Brenau University (GA)47%-10%434%85%20974111%108%
172Marshall University (WV)*49%-17%3355%83%7113106%94%
173Rollins College (FL)69%1%783%76%2530393%78%
174Florida Southern College (FL)57%-11%1052%86%2240485%76%
175Shaw University (NC)26%-7%7013%75%18293131%130%
176Sweet Briar College (VA)60%-6%25-2%77%2037975%79%
177Limestone College (SC)47%-14%223%84%22848114%107%
178West Virginia Wesleyan College (WV)50%-16%67-10%84%1556389%86%
179Virginia Wesleyan University (VA)53%-7%832%81%2271093%90%
180Strayer University at Florida (FL)°18%0%0-1%85%23947124%132%
181Gallaudet University (DC)58%-6%490%69%1291185%100%
182Charleston Southern University (SC)40%-11%1016%83%15959102%94%
183Erskine College and Seminary (SC)60%-8%35-9%78%3080281%84%
184Southern Wesleyan University (SC)51%-18%39-3%83%16095106%101%
185Paine College (GA)21%-7%273%79%15820130%132%
186University of Mobile (AL)48%-21%371%83%14699113%95%
187Mercer University (GA)61%-12%12112%85%18682105%88%
188Gardner-Webb University (NC)60%-15%850%85%1912098%93%
189Huntingdon College (AL)46%-18%38-1%81%19048101%93%
190Catholic University of America (DC)71%-10%69-9%87%2739072%68%
191Coker University (SC)53%-11%404%77%15570113%101%
192Augusta University (GA)*39%-5%1030%85%12463108%100%
193Agnes Scott College (GA)69%-9%788%70%1815797%85%
194Fairmont State University (WV)*39%-15%104-5%83%8670108%93%
195Point University (GA)51%-1%27-23%72%18326119%107%
196University of Montevallo (AL)*51%-12%883%80%15078103%91%
197Amer. InterCont. Univ. at Atlanta (GA)°17%-4%918%71%16190121%136%
198Thomas University (GA)26%2%72%87%21820114%104%
199Queens University of Charlotte (NC)56%-15%50-8%84%1896693%85%
200Hollins University (VA)56%-8%3410%77%1809089%80%
201Truett McConnell University (GA)38%-10%26-28%79%1632596%91%
202University of South Alabama (AL)*42%-13%2827%84%12778104%96%
203Montreat College (NC)48%-9%12-3%80%18782104%96%
204Barry University (FL)52%-7%1210%82%17305114%109%
205Allen University (SC)24%-3%3523%68%14841131%133%
206Belmont Abbey College (NC)47%-13%37-2%76%1913297%85%
207Keiser University (FL)58%-7%9017%76%30951116%120%
208Brevard College (NC)42%-9%28-4%76%2105392%87%
209Anderson University (SC)51%-8%94-10%83%1948095%82%
210Randolph College (VA)63%-10%280%79%2109689%80%
211University of West Alabama (AL)*32%-13%544%87%13897122%109%
212University of Alabama at Huntsville (AL)*51%-17%7510%88%1713697%81%
213University of Alabama (AL)*67%-19%621-5%87%2026192%79%
214Campbell University (NC)49%-13%1411%85%2082392%89%
215Jacksonville State University (AL)*45%-15%195-2%84%15534111%93%
216Altierus Career College at Tampa (FL)°54%-20%019%56%20645113%119%
217Glenville State College (WV)*26%-5%39-2%75%15174114%95%
218American Public Univ. System (WV)°20%-15%107-22%81%9881106%107%
219Meredith College (NC)58%-13%74-9%81%2110282%80%
220Shenandoah University (VA)65%-13%55-11%85%2534679%77%
221University of Miami (FL)82%-5%270-8%80%2645182%72%
222High Point University (NC)63%-8%79-16%80%3356979%71%
223Hampden-Sydney College (VA)65%-5%39-16%84%2653469%61%
224Virginia University of Lynchburg (VA)17%10%321%55%18814129%138%
225St. Andrews University (NC)36%-1%19-17%79%22747106%100%
226Florida Institute of Technology (FL)60%-9%89-6%91%2840298%80%
227South University at Columbia (SC)°24%-7%35%79%21848117%125%
228Shorter University (GA)48%-15%481%83%18793115%98%
229Univ. of South Carolina at Beaufort (SC)*32%-5%46-10%82%15147102%96%
230Edward Waters College (FL)24%-9%38-35%81%12775129%118%
231Guilford College (NC)50%-8%64-3%78%21215100%88%
232Hodges University (FL)34%5%6-2%70%19780115%108%
233Young Harris College (GA)43%-19%41-16%83%1628888%91%
234Johnson C. Smith University (NC)42%-20%795%75%18814129%130%
235Art Inst. of Virginia Beach (VA)°37%-15%921%68%22033116%108%
236Southeastern University (FL)45%-13%101-7%76%2309895%95%
237Faulkner University (AL)44%-17%323%81%23250116%109%
238West Virginia State University (WV)*30%-11%41-17%74%11765116%93%
239Webber International University (FL)37%-18%21-8%79%22416106%99%
240Stratford University (VA)°31%-16%28%71%19607118%127%
241Spelman College (GA)76%-14%1745%76%39155126%117%
242Troy University (AL)*32%-21%2180%82%13634119%102%
243Palm Bch. Atl. Univ. at W. Palm Bch. (FL)50%-9%79-6%78%2227892%92%
244Herzing University at Atlanta (GA)°34%-33%115%77%23967116%134%
245Oakwood University (AL)47%-18%73-3%70%24644125%117%
246St. Thomas University (FL)50%-6%49-32%78%18917112%96%
247Morehouse College (GA)54%-9%1316%79%33546124%110%
248Full Sail University (FL)°39%-25%137413%65%26260114%99%
249Talladega College (AL)30%-21%7122%60%15514126%131%
250Salem University (WV)°28%-16%61%82%20054116%111%
251Ave Maria University (FL)56%-13%37-12%72%1477886%73%
252Oglethorpe University (GA)45%-7%466%77%19860101%82%
253DeVry University at Miramar (FL)°25%-16%144%82%26579116%115%
254Spring Hill College (AL)51%-18%55-12%85%1832691%77%
255Regent University (VA)33%-12%4714%71%16691110%113%
256Wesleyan College (GA)51%-25%22-11%72%12043115%108%
257Strayer Univ. at North Carolina (NC)°14%-39%010%85%22816124%143%
258Living Arts College (NC)°52%-20%1323%58%25162117%107%
259Clark Atlanta University (GA)40%-10%21320%77%32931132%135%
260Brewton-Parker College (GA)26%-5%13-12%68%18013111%110%
261Emmanuel College (GA)39%-25%24-12%73%16892107%91%
262Nova Southeastern University (FL)47%-15%1169%83%23290110%94%
263Methodist University (NC)32%-22%58-6%87%3016697%99%
264Birmingham-Southern College (AL)65%-21%34-13%83%2136384%67%
265Bethany College (WV)44%-22%34-10%76%1741993%87%
266Lynn University (FL)57%-7%39-15%71%3332694%92%
267DeVry University at Decatur (GA)°22%-29%89%82%27040116%124%
268Eckerd College (FL)64%-11%57-10%73%2795383%69%
269Beacon College (FL)68%-2%43%53%3644880%69%
270Hampton University (VA)48%-18%175-7%81%27584118%117%
271Everglades University (FL)52%-13%1999%65%28345114%98%
272University of Charleston (WV)44%-25%29-12%77%1815295%94%
273Strayer University at Arlington (VA)°26%-37%0-2%85%24608124%117%
274Southern Virginia University (VA)36%-22%1417%60%1628995%84%
275Liberty University (VA)38%-25%4132%75%26436104%102%
276Strayer University at DC (DC)°16%-50%0-2%85%26625124%135%
Definitions:
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.
* = public
° = for-profit