In the 1950s, North Carolina had established a high-tech hub with its now-venerated “Research Triangle,” focused on the research efforts of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and Duke University. Today the state also supports an extensive local community college system as well as smaller private schools. This guide provides an overview of some of North Carolina’s best colleges, including school rankings and comparison tools, information on tuition and financial aid, and a look at the state’s major geographical regions. Read on to find out more.

North Carolina College Leaderboard: 2017 Rankings

North Carolina North Carolina

The identification of the “best college” won’t be the same from person to person, but it’s true that many students value some key criteria, such as tuition, the availability of financial aid, and student-to-faculty ratio. Taking into account those factors and others, we’ve compiled the following ranking of North Carolina colleges to determine which come out on top.

Rank School Name Score Tuition Fees Alumni Earnings Student/Teacher Ratio Gift Financial AidGraduation Rate Acceptance Rate # Online Programs # Total Programs Placement Services Credit for Experience
1
McDowell Technical Community College
99.77
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,000
8:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
9%
27% N/A 0 61 Yes Yes
2
Rockingham Community College
99.65
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,300
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
21%
15% N/A 0 49 Yes Yes
3
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
98.88
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$27,400
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
9%
18% N/A 3 109 Yes Yes
4
Pitt Community College
98.47
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,000
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
11%
13% N/A 12 116 Yes Yes
5
Durham Technical Community College
98.16
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$29,200
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
3%
12% N/A 1 91 Yes No
6
Randolph Community College
98.05
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,700
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
11%
15% N/A 0 66 Yes Yes
7
Surry Community College
97.96
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,800
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
11%
24% N/A 7 91 Yes No
8
Alamance Community College
97.80
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,500
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
16%
11% N/A 1 85 Yes No
9
Craven Community College
97.17
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$29,100
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
5%
12% N/A 8 53 No Yes
10
Guilford Technical Community College
96.99
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$28,800
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
5%
10% N/A 13 115 Yes Yes
11
Vance-Granville Community College
96.64
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,900
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
18%
28% N/A 1 62 Yes No
12
Piedmont Community College
96.34
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,700
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
13%
29% N/A 1 109 Yes Yes
13
Southwestern Community College
96.29
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,400
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
15%
32% N/A 7 69 Yes No
14
Catawba Valley Community College
95.83
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,700
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
5%
21% N/A 0 81 Yes No
15
Forsyth Technical Community College
95.76
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,700
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
N/A
14% N/A 11 154 Yes No
16
Cape Fear Community College
95.75
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,500
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
9%
14% N/A 1 100 Yes Yes
17
Wayne Community College
95.60
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,500
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
5%
18% N/A 8 69 Yes No
18
Blue Ridge Community College
95.58
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,800
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
10%
17% N/A 4 119 Yes No
19
Wilkes Community College
95.51
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,300
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
17%
32% N/A 1 71 Yes No
20
Central Piedmont Community College
95.08
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$28,100
19:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
3%
12% N/A 4 149 Yes No
21
Lenoir Community College
94.84
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,600
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
13%
12% N/A 8 93 Yes No
22
Southeastern Community College
94.67
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,400
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
28%
10% N/A 0 62 Yes Yes
23
Western Piedmont Community College
94.64
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,900
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
10%
24% N/A 3 65 No No
24
Montgomery Community College
94.52
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,600
8:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
19%
33% N/A 4 50 No No
25
Coastal Carolina Community College
94.40
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$27,300
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
3%
25% N/A 3 57 Yes No
26
South Piedmont Community College
94.31
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$20,700
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
7%
35% N/A 3 73 Yes No
27
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
94.28
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,000
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
2%
35% N/A 0 83 Yes Yes
28
Davidson County Community College
94.18
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,400
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
7%
26% N/A 4 98 Yes No
29
Gaston College
94.15
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,700
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
1%
24% N/A 2 98 Yes Yes
30
College of the Albemarle
94.13
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,100
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
7%
19% N/A 1 51 Yes No
31
Haywood Community College
94.09
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$22,600
6:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
9%
20% N/A 7 73 Yes No
32
Wake Technical Community College
94.02
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,300
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
2%
16% N/A 11 130 Yes Yes
33
Sandhills Community College
93.71
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,000
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
18%
11% N/A 1 66 Yes Yes
34
Stanly Community College
93.62
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,900
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
15%
25% N/A 12 53 Yes Yes
35
Bladen Community College
93.02
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,700
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
2%
12% N/A 7 40 Yes No
36
Fayetteville Technical Community College
92.94
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$27,700
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
1%
7% N/A 17 143 Yes Yes
37
Carteret Community College
92.91
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,200
8:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
8%
16% N/A 1 56 Yes No
38
Central Carolina Community College
92.68
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,400
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
7%
20% N/A 3 88 No Yes
39
Carolinas College of Health Sciences
92.41
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$47,300
7:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
N/A
50% 17% 1 8 Yes Yes
40
Pamlico Community College
92.30
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$22,000
9:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
11%
67% N/A 13 39 Yes Yes
41
Johnston Community College
92.15
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,800
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
4%
29% N/A 0 60 Yes Yes
42
Nash Community College
91.85
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,700
25:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
16%
7% N/A 0 74 Yes No
43
Wilson Community College
91.69
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,000
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
8%
24% N/A 5 47 No No
44
Mitchell Community College
91.57
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,200
21:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
9%
19% N/A 14 61 Yes No
45
Beaufort County Community College
91.11
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,900
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
5%
18% N/A 4 58 Yes Yes
46
Cleveland Community College
90.78
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,100
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
1%
23% N/A 4 77 No Yes
47
James Sprunt Community College
90.56
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,100
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
3%
14% N/A 0 39 Yes Yes
48
Martin Community College
89.89
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$21,800
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
N/A
8% N/A 0 59 No No
49
Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
89.73
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,500
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
1%
20% N/A 0 61 Yes No
50
Halifax Community College
89.61
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$21,500
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
5%
26% N/A 0 44 Yes No
Rank School Name Score Tuition Fees Alumni Earnings Student/Teacher Ratio Gift Financial AidGraduation Rate Acceptance Rate # Online Programs # Total Programs Placement Services Credit for Experience
1
Duke University
99.81
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$76,700
7:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
44%
95% 11% 0 161 Yes No
2
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
99.64
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$50,400
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
45%
89% 28% 9 148 Yes No
3
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
98.03
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$47,500
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
50%
71% 52% 34 194 Yes No
4
Wake Forest University
97.92
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$61,000
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
40%
87% 34% 1 73 Yes No
5
Queens University of Charlotte
97.87
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,600
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
98%
52% 78% 4 49 Yes No
6
Davidson College
97.57
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$58,500
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
60%
92% 22% 0 27 No No
7
Meredith College
97.08
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,400
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
59% 61% 0 56 Yes Yes
8
Methodist University
96.82
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$39,600
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
98%
39% 56% 1 50 Yes Yes
9
East Carolina University
96.76
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$39,200
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
50%
58% 77% 49 166 Yes No
10
Elon University
96.75
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$44,500
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
53%
83% 54% 0 70 Yes No
11
Salem College
96.67
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$33,200
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
98%
63% 60% 2 39 Yes Yes
12
Montreat College
96.62
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$40,800
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
42% 46% 4 26 No Yes
13
Barton College
96.51
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,500
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
48% 38% 0 35 Yes No
14
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
96.38
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$41,700
19:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
34%
53% 64% 13 131 Yes No
15
University of Mount Olive
96.34
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$39,200
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
44% 47% 2 33 Yes Yes
16
Campbell University
96.27
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$42,900
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
87%
51% 68% 3 101 Yes Yes
17
Guilford College
96.03
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,500
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
57% 62% 0 36 Yes No
18
Lenoir-Rhyne University
95.90
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,900
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
98%
49% 66% 2 47 Yes No
19
University of North Carolina Wilmington
95.73
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,700
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
43%
69% 59% 6 87 Yes No
20
Pfeiffer University
95.55
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$37,500
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
82%
41% 47% 5 54 Yes No
21
Mars Hill University
95.54
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$32,800
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
46% 62% 0 32 Yes Yes
22
Catawba College
95.42
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,600
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
50% 36% 0 45 Yes No
23
Appalachian State University
95.22
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,600
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
39%
66% 63% 9 133 Yes Yes
24
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
95.09
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$37,000
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
49%
54% 61% 16 126 Yes No
25
Gardner-Webb University
95.08
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,800
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
96%
45% 67% 29 68 Yes No
26
University of North Carolina at Asheville
94.97
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,000
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
57%
55% 73% 0 36 Yes No
27
Wingate University
94.41
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$37,000
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
45% 75% 0 41 No No
28
Greensboro College
94.40
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,100
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
35% 73% 0 53 Yes Yes
29
North Carolina Central University
94.28
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,600
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
81%
43% 43% 13 77 Yes Yes
30
Western Carolina University
94.21
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,100
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
67%
48% 43% 16 98 Yes Yes
31
High Point University
94.14
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$37,500
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
72%
61% 80% 0 51 Yes No
32
Winston-Salem State University
94.03
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$33,300
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
67%
40% 60% 7 54 No No
33
Belmont Abbey College
93.94
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$39,200
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
43% 69% 0 17 Yes Yes
34
North Carolina A & T State University
93.41
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$33,600
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
59%
43% 57% 6 97 Yes No
35
Elizabeth City State University
93.18
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$30,100
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
59%
43% 49% 0 40 Yes No
36
Johnson C Smith University
93.18
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,300
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
56%
42% 42% 0 29 Yes No
37
Warren Wilson College
92.82
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,500
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
91%
57% 72% 0 21 Yes Yes
38
Piedmont International University
92.62
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$30,700
9:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
84%
32% 46% 4 10 Yes No
39
Lees-McRae College
92.39
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$34,400
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
34% 62% 1 23 Yes No
40
William Peace University
92.33
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,900
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
31% 63% 0 17 Yes No
41
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
92.33
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$33,400
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
40%
34% 73% 4 63 Yes No
42
Brevard College
92.21
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,100
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
32% 43% 0 20 No Yes
43
Bennett College
92.16
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$29,400
9:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
76%
37% 92% 0 17 Yes No
44
St Andrews University
91.98
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,800
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
94%
35% 57% 1 18 Yes No
45
North Carolina Wesleyan College
91.72
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,900
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
89%
24% 53% 0 24 Yes No
46
Chowan University
91.69
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,400
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
24% 60% 0 29 No No
47
Fayetteville State University
90.98
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,100
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
69%
31% 50% 8 48 Yes Yes
48
Saint Augustine’s University
90.04
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$28,200
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
24%
35% 74% 0 31 Yes No
49
Shaw University
89.03
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$27,400
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
58%
26% 59% 0 27 Yes Yes
50
Livingstone College
88.37
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,100
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
63%
23% 64% 0 26 Yes Yes

North Carolina College Search & Compare Tool

After doing an initial round of research to select potential schools, students may find it helpful to compare those schools side-by-side. The search tool below allows users to select certain criteria and then get apples-to-apples results about how they stack up against each other.

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College Outreach Programs in North Carolina

Getting into college is one major hurdle for prospective students, and figuring how to pay for it is another. North Carolina offers several college preparation and planning programs, including ones that help high school students get a head start on college; assist disadvantaged students with getting into college; and give a second chance to students who have been denied admission. Following is a look at a few of the state’s programs.

Career and College Promise

This program gives students a head start on working toward a college degree or professional credential by taking free college courses during their high school years. When they graduate, they will already be several college credits closer to a four-year degree, allowing them to save money on tuition. Students can also take courses that apply toward vocational training or credentials, such as a diploma or certificate.

Project Uplift

This annual program invites high school seniors to spend two days on the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina. Students are selected from ethnic and racial minority groups, as well as from rural and financial disadvantaged situations. The program is designed to assist those who may face additional difficulties pursuing a college education, as well as to foster diversity among the student body at UNC. Students are introduced to college life from both social and academic perspectives.

College Redirection

College Redirection targets students previously denied admission into college and allows them to be recruited by North Carolina colleges and universities that still have openings available. Students may put their name in a pool, and other North Carolina colleges and universities may then offer them a slot. The program runs during the summer, after the initial round of admissions has ended but some schools still have openings they want to fill with qualified applicants.

Cost Analysis of Attending North Carolina Colleges

The cost of higher education in North Carolina depends on several factors, most notably tuition and financial aid. Few students are lucky enough to land a full scholarship, or to have substantial financial resources at their disposal. Instead, most will rely on financial aid and will likely place heavy emphasis on tuition costs when deciding which school to attend. The next three charts aim to provide average tuition rates and financial aid data, so that students can put a school’s cost of attendance into perspective.

Average North Carolina Tuition & Fees at 4-Year Public Colleges

Source: CollegeBoard

% of North Carolina Students Receiving Financial Aid

Source: IPEDS

Average Financial Aid Award for North Carolina Students

Source: IPEDS

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.

* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Most Affordable North Carolina Colleges

Tuition rates never tell the whole story. Financial aid awards, especially grants and scholarships, can substantially offset a school’s tuition. Here we list the six most affordable colleges and universities in North Carolina based on their net price, which is the cost of attendance less any financial aid awards.

Average
Annual Net
Price

Cost for students awarded federal financial aid, after school and government aid is deducted. At public colleges, only applies to in-state students.

North Carolina College Net Price vs. National Average
NORTH CAROLINA $17,339 Average
Annual Net Price
$18,073

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

North Carolina Colleges Highest Alumni Earnings

For most students, what they can expect to earn after graduating is an important factor when deciding whether a particular school is a worthy investment. Below is a ranking of North Carolina’s top six schools with the highest paid alumni 10 years after enrollment.

Annual
Median Earnings
10 Years
After Entering
College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

North Carolina Alumni Salaries vs. National Average
NORTH CAROLINA $37,187 Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After Entering College
$42,759

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Colleges in North Carolina With Least Alumni Debt

While determining earning potential is important, another key metric is the average student debt from a particular school. The following ranking lists the six best schools in North Carolina for graduates with the least amount of student loan debt.

Median
Federal Student
Loan Debt After
Graduation

Only for undergraduates who completed college; does not include Parent-PLUS loans.

North Carolina College Grad Debt Vs. National Average
NORTH CAROLINA $24,829 Median Federal Student
Loan Debt After Graduation
$23,145

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

North Carolina Cost of Living: College Expenses Beyond Tuition

To get the most complete picture on the cost of attending colleges in North Carolina, students must consider the cost of living in a particular area. Low tuition rates help, but they may not offset the overall expenses associated with daily life. As a whole, students can expect the cost of living in North Carolina to be about 5 percent less than the national average, with housing offering a decided break at 15 percent less, but each metro area will be slightly different. Check out the chart below to get a better idea of where a particular area of the state stands in terms of cost of living.

area composite index housing groceries utilities transportation health care misc.
Statewide Average 95% 86% 100% 100% 96% 101% 99%
Charlotte 95% 83% 99% 102% 96% 103% 101%
Durham 89% 71% 97% 88% 103% 102% 94%
Raleigh 91% 71% 106% 98% 90% 102% 100%
Wilmington 106% 107% 107% 110% 98% 102% 107%
Winston-Salem 93% 67% 97% 111% 99% 105% 106%

Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research

College Accreditation in North Carolina

When evaluating North Carolina colleges to create a shortlist of possibilities, students should pay special attention to accreditation. Accreditation is verification by an independent entity that a particular school or program meets certain educational standards. Employers typically prefer graduates from accredited institutions, and students may be unable to transfer course credits from unaccredited schools. Financial aid options are also limited for students at unaccredited schools; they are ineligible for federal funding.

Schools can be accredited at both the institutional and program level. Most North Carolina schools seek general accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. At the program level, other organizations accredit specific programs in areas such as engineering, chemistry, nursing and law. Here are a few examples:

Major College Cities in North Carolina

Charlotte

Recent college graduates will find a welcoming atmosphere in Charlotte, which ranks second nationally for the best areas for job-seeking grads. Forbes Magazine also listed Charlotte as a top 20 city for businesses and careers. Students can choose from the extensive academic options offered by a large public university, the more intimate environment of a private college, or the practicality and convenience of community college.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

CharlotteUniversity of North Carolina at Charlotte Public $12,268 $41,700
As the fourth-largest school in the University of North Carolina system, UNC Charlotte serves approximately 27,000 students and is one of the state's fastest-growing schools. The Charlotte campus opened as a college center in 1946 for returning veterans, and has expanded today to offer some 90 bachelor's degree programs and over 100 graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as applied mathematics, real estate and kinesiology.
CharlotteCentral Piedmont Community College Public $11,296 $28,100
With a 50-year history, CPCC has six campuses within Mecklenburg County and offers more than 100 programs, including diplomas, degrees and certificate options in areas such as electrical engineering, medical assisting, accounting, dental hygiene and welding technology. No matter their areas of study, all students learn the 'Core 4' which consist of the basic competencies of critical thinking, personal growth, communication and responsibility.
CharlotteQueens University of Charlotte Private not-for-profit $23,166 $38,600
Opened in 1857, the Presbyterian-affiliated Queens now has a student population of about 2,200. Undergraduates can choose from among 40 m
Raleigh

The state's capital might also be thought of as its intellectual capital, with a population that is trained and educated in various fields from art to technology. Raleigh and its next-door neighbor Durham serve as an anchor for the three North Carolina colleges that comprise the respected Research Triangle; the area also is home to several other private and community colleges.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

RaleighNorth Carolina State University at Raleigh Public $13,164 $47,500
NC State is one of North Carolina's premier research institutions, with strong programs in engineering, agriculture, and education among its many offerings. With a student population of over 34,000, NC State makes a notable impact on North Carolina's economy, especially in the science and technology sectors.
RaleighWake Technical Community College Public $8,991 $31,300
WTCC is the largest community college in North Carolina, providing academic and professional instruction to over 70,000 students. WTCC is spread over five campuses and two training centers, offering Raleigh-area residents more than 200 diplomas, degrees and certificates. Some of these programs include web and graphic design, materials engineering, applied biotechnology, computer programming and hospitality management.
RaleighWilliam Peace University Private not-for-profit $18,396 $35,900
Founded in 1857, students at this institution enjoy personal attention with a student-faculty ratio of 13:1. William Peace University has the real-world numbers to back up its quality education, with a 97 percent job or graduate school placement rate. Students also garner plenty of volunteer

Source: College Scorecard

North Carolina College Resources

Students preparing for college can benefit from the insight of those who already know the ropes. To make the process a little smoother, we’ve prepared a list of resources that prospective students can turn to for more information about North Carolina colleges.

College Foundation of North Carolina

The Foundation’s website serves as a general resource for North Carolina students who are preparing for college, offering advice in areas such as high school planning and financial aid.

eLearningNC

This is a clearinghouse of information about accessing and using North Carolina’s out-of-classroom electronic learning options, primarily through online classes. E-learning is supported at multiple education levels, including college and professional learning.

NC Community Colleges

The website for the state’s community college system provides students with career resources, distance learning options and curriculum information.

NC4Vets – Education

NC4Vets is a comprehensive resource for the state’s military veterans, explaining benefits and programs available to veterans wishing to go to college in North Carolina.

North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities

NCICU represents the 36 private colleges and universities in North Carolina. Students interested in a private college education can get information about finding a college, accessing student programs, and paying for school.

University of North Carolina – A System of Higher Learning

Students interested in attending the University of North Carolina at one of its 17 campuses can find a multitude of information concerning scholarships, choosing a degree and admission requirements.