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10 best colleges for the money

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
4 of 11

BYU doesn't distinguish between in- and out-of-state students, but it does between members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS, and those who aren't. For students who are LDS church members, the school is an unbelievably good deal with consistently top-ranked academics and rock-bottom tuition set at $4,560 for 2011-2012.

That's less than one-fifth of the cost of tuition and fees at the average four-year private nonprofit college, which is $27,963, according to The College Board. The sticker price for students who aren't LDS church members is set at twice the figure for members -- $9,120 for 2011-2012 undergrads.

Truman adds that because of the school's faith-based slant, BYU doesn't offer the typical college experience. BYU strongly promotes the Latter-day Saints faith and tenets and the vast majority of BYU students -- more than 97 percent in fact -- identify as LDS. That means if you're looking for a school with a religiously diverse student body, this isn't the spot for you.

A college visit provides future students with an accurate view of campus life and can influence their financial aid package.

"If I arrange (a campus visit), it shows I am so much more serious than an applicant who turns in their application at the last minute and never visited," Truman says. If school admissions officials aren't aware that you took a campus visit, you can always mention it in your admissions essay.




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