36 Best College Values Competing in 2018's March Madness

Throughout the "March madness" of the annual NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, exciting college athletic programs will attract the attention of prospective students. Schools that perform well in the tournament -- especially so-called 'Cinderella schools' who do so unexpectedly -- often see a surge in the number of applications they receive the following year.

And, sure, cheering on a top-quality sports team during your time on campus can be an important part of the college experience. But you don't have to forgo quality academics and bottom-line value to attend a school with a basketball program that makes it to the Big Dance.

Only a little more than half of the 68 teams playing in this year's men's tournament also earned a spot in Kiplinger's 2018 rankings of the top 300 college values. Take a look.

Davidson College

Wikimedia Commons

Location: Davidson, N.C.

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,796

Kiplinger's 2018 ranking (all schools): #2

Kiplinger's 2018 ranking (liberal arts colleges): #1

NCAA 2018 men's basketball tournament seeding: #12 seed, South region

Like many of the schools on our best-values list, Davidson posts an annual sticker price of more than $60,000. But its financial aid programs have kept costs in check. Nearly half of students receive need-based aid, and the average award cuts the school's sticker price by 65%, to $22,905 a year. A robust merit-aid program awards funds to 14% of students who don't receive need-based aid; those awards average $25,572 a year. And since loans aren't part of the deal at Davidson, the average debt of the 26% of students who do borrow is $20,431, compared with the national average of $32,000.


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