Affordability, Access, Quality

Updated September 16, 2019

For the third successive year, the University at Buffalo has achieved an all-time high ranking among the nation’s best public and national universities, according to the 2020 U.S. News and World Report “Best Colleges” issue, released September 9, 2019.

UB is rated among the “top 50” public universities in the nation for the sixth straight year, coming in at No. 31, up seven places from last year. UB also achieved its highest rating ever among the best national universities in the country — public and private — at No. 79, up 10 places from last year. Over the past 12 years, UB has risen 42 spots in the rankings.

Earning high praise from students for value and its learning environment, UB ranks No. 31 among the nation’s top public universities in the 2020 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings, released September 4, 2019.

UB is ranked No. 5 among public universities in the Northeast and No. 48 among all colleges in the Northeast, an improvement of eight spots from last year. 

A UB education is an excellent value. As a public university, our tuition is only a fraction of the cost of attending a private college or university of comparable quality and opportunity.

“Our exceptional rise in the rankings of the best public and national universities reflects the profound impact that UB is having – through our scholarship, our research and our creative activity – on the region, the nation and the world,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.

“While these rankings speak volumes about the robust culture of academic excellence that we foster, they also underscore our unwavering commitment to the greater good.” said Tripathi.  

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U.S. News based its rankings on an assessment of more than 1,600 of the country’s four-year colleges and universities, in addition to data reported to the U.S. Department of Education.

The WSJ/THE rankings methodology incorporates student success and learning by including the results of the THE US Student Survey. The survey examines a range of key issues, including students’ engagement with their studies, their interaction with their teachers and their satisfaction with their experience.

UB is among a number of public universities that are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU) included in the ranking. Other AAU public universities ranked by U.S. News for 2019 include University of California, Berkeley; Michigan; The Ohio State University; Iowa; Indiana; Michigan State; Penn State; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Purdue and Rutgers.


Is UB tuition really affordable?

Among public institutions in the Association of American Universities, UB is among the lowest in cost of other AAU public universities. 

Providing access to higher education is an important mission for UB.  Part of the revenue from tuition is used to provide financial aid for lower-income families through the New York State Tuition Assistance Program.  In addition, UB supports a generous merit- and need-based aid program which provides significant grant and scholarship funds to incoming freshmen.

Additional information about Student Debt is available here:  Student Debt

What are the steps UB is taking to control costs?

In 2011, the State of New York established a predictable tuition plan for SUNY and CUNY campuses. The plan limits tuition increases for full-time in-state undergraduates, replacing an era of sudden tuition increases with a system that is predictable.  It also limits increases to tuition for out-of-state students.  UB supports an extension of the legislation, which includes a predictable tuition program.

What is UB doing to operate more efficiently?

The University at Buffalo has developed a strategic plan which directs revenues to initiatives which will positively impact the student experience by emphasizing academic quality, student success, and affordability.

In streamlining the delivery of academic and academic support services, UB has saved money, time and resources, empowering our faculty and staff to refocus those assets where they matter most—investing in academic and research achievement.

  • Savings Through IT Consolidation.  Consolidating 70 disparate phone systems into one centralized Voice over Internet Protocol phone (VoIP) system has saved the university $700,000. An additional $2.1 million was saved by standardizing workstation purchasing into a single procurement program.
  • Streamlining Student Access.  The new Student Information System is transforming how students access services throughout their academic career at UB. Students have one web site to register for courses, request transcripts, review financial aid and plan their academic career online.  
  • Customizing Student Data.  Academic departments are able to access institutional data to assist with planning and reporting. The UB Student Information System includes a new data warehouse that offers a variety of reports, as well as the opportunity to customize information for specific departments.
  • Improving Communications.  The Web Content Initiative is standardizing institutional branding and enhancing school branding and messaging, improving marketing, training, customer support and in-house university community communication.
  • Reorganizing HR Services.  The Human Resources Strategic Transformation reorganized campus-wide HR services from 61 points across the campus into three divisional units covering business services, student affairs and the academic enterprise.
  • Reducing Our Carbon Footprint.  The Environmental Stewardship Committee has created the first UB Climate Action Plan, implementing action items that reduce UB’s carbon footprint, increase environmental awareness, and conserve UB’s finite resources. 

What is the quality of a UB education?

UB is committed to providing an excellent education to its undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

UB’s rise in the rankings this year is due to continued improvement in several of the metrics used by U.S. News. UB did well in U.S. News’ “academic reputation” metric with an increased peer reputation score.  The reputation metric is a two-year weighted average of ratings from top academics – presidents, provosts and deans of admissions – who rate the academic quality of peer institutions.

UB also continued to outperform the graduation rate predicted by U.S. News by 10 percent and improved the university’s alumni giving rate.

UB has recently (2014) been reaccredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and has maintained that accreditation since 1921.  UB’s accreditation is driven principally by three important considerations:

  • Clear evidence of institutional integrity and effectiveness at all levels of decision-making in furtherance of the university’s core educational purpose,
  • Demonstrable educational effectiveness embedded in an ongoing system for continuous improvement in educational outcomes,
  • Evidence of continuing fiscal soundness as reflected in sustained institutional access to federal funds (Title IV student financial aid).

What can be done so that more students graduate in four years?

UB has again outperformed the graduation rate predicted by U.S. News by 10 percent.

UB’s Finish in 4 program, part of a comprehensive approach toward increasing graduation rates, has produced measurable results and earned UB national recognition.  

UB’s Finish in 4 initiative asks students to follow an academic roadmap for on-time graduation in exchange for UB's promise that it will offer enough classes to make it possible to earn a degree in four years.  

First-time, full-time freshman at UB can sign a pledge to do their part to graduate in four years, including keeping up their grades, routinely meeting with their advisers and making school a priority over their work schedule.  In turn, the university ensures students get the access to the advisement and required courses needed to graduate in four years.  If students fulfill their obligations, but still don’t graduate on time, they’ll be able to complete the required courses for graduation free of charge.

UB launched its Finish in Four program in 2012, which has contributed to significant improvements to the university’s undergraduate four-year completion percentage. The program provides students with enhanced support throughout their entire undergraduate career, helping them to achieve their degree in a timely manner. 


How does room and board compare to other Western New York colleges?

UB room and board costs are competitive with other 4-year degree-granting institutions in the Western New York region.

For 2019-20, according to U.S. News and World Report, the average cost for room and board among the following 4-year degree-granting institutions is $12,846.

  • SUNY Buffalo State: $13,970 (2019-20)
  • University at Buffalo: $14,134 (2019-20)
  • Medaille College:  not available
  • Niagara University: $11,700 (2019-20)
  • Daemen College: $13,010 (2019-20)
  • Canisius College: $11,416 (2019-20)

What is the estimated total cost to attend UB?

The semester tuition and fees charges are available on the Tuition and Fees Web page.  The UB Financial Aid website provides an estimated annual budget based on fall and spring semester attendance - Housing and board allowances, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation figures are estimates that vary for each student.