With annual costs more than $50,000 per year, none of the universities on Kiplinger's list of best value colleges are what most people would call a bargain.
But when it comes to college values, according to Kiplinger, tuition rates can be deceiving.
Instead the financial publication looks not only at the sticker price, but also at each university's financial aid packages, graduation rates (you know, because college is cheaper when you finish in four years) and student indebtedness.
Cost factors made up only half of the criteria; academic quality makes up 56.25 percent of the rankings for a group of universities that are both prestigious and less expensive than their peers.
With yearly costs estimated at $50,692, Rice has the lowest sticker price of any school that made the top 20, and need-based aid reduces that figure to an average net cost of $19,440. Kiplinger's adds:
Unlike many top-tier institutions, Rice also awards merit aid to a significant percentage of students, at an average of almost $16,000."
Ahead of Rice is Yale University in the no. 1 spot for a need-based aid program described as "lavish," with an average annual net cost of $13,786 and 100 percent of demonstrated needs met. Princeton, Duke and the California Institute of Technology round out the top five.
As for other private universities in Texas, Trinity in San Antonio comes in at no. 30, Baylor ranks 48 and SMU lands at no. 69.