UCSB is the fifth most affordable UC campus for in-state students in 2011, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine.

The publication’s list of the top 100 ‘best value’ public colleges and universities was determined by comparing each university’s academic quality to its tuition cost. The study considered student SAT or ACT scores, admission rates, student-faculty ratios and graduation rates, as well as annual student fees, average debt upon graduation and financial aid allocated by each institution.

Also known as the “Best B.A. for Your Buck” study, the Kiplinger’s list placed UCSB 34th and 40th in the nation for its in-state and out-of-state costs, respectively.

UC San Diego received top honors as the most affordable UC for in-state students and came in as the 12th best-valued university in the nation overall. The full report, which ranks University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the best-valued public college or university in America, will be featured in the magazine’s print version in February.

Doug Wagoner, Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs and a third-year history major, said reports like Kiplinger’s often influence prospective students’ application decisions.

“I think any report, magazine or article that is commenting on the value of a degree or the merit of our university has a big impact on students’ decisions to attend or not attend UCSB,” Wagoner said.

However, despite UCSB’s high ranking, Director of Admissions Christine Van Gieson said it takes more than favorable statistics to encourage students to attend a university.

“Taken as a group, rankings can say something general about your institution, but we tend not to get too excited about all of them because they can vary a lot,” Van Gieson said. “There are so many and they often seem to be designed to sell publications and not necessarily give an accurate view of the institution.”

Mike Miller, director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, said private donations largely determine a school’s placement on Kiplinger’s list.

“Berkeley has a large endowed scholarship program, and UCLA does as well,” Miller said. “The additional money [an institution may have to offer] is private money that these schools have been able to raise.”

With an average annual in-state tuition of $17,000, the report ranked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the best-valued public college or university in America. University of Florida and University of Virginia trailed behind UNC Chapel Hill.

Kiplinger’s full list of top schools can be found at www.kiplinger.com.