Both OSU and OU posted lackluster scores for four-year graduation rates, Wojno said. OU's rate stood at 36 percent, and OSU's was 35 percent.
USAO's ACT scores fell behind the other two Oklahoma schools — just 44 percent of its incoming freshman class scored a 24 or higher on the exam. But the university's low cost makes it an attractive choice, Wojno said.
The school's student-to-faculty ratio of 14 to 1 is also a positive attribute, he said.
“It's one of the lowest on our list,” he said.
Officials at all three schools said they were pleased to be included in the ranking. OU spokeswoman Catherine Bishop noted the university also has been included in a similar list produced by the Princeton Review.
“We are pleased, but not surprised, that OU continues to be recognized in nationwide surveys in terms of academic excellence and best value to students,” Bishop said.
OSU spokesman Gary Shutt said the ranking is an important one, particularly at a time when college affordability is a major priority of higher education officials and policymakers.
“Kiplinger's is a longtime, well-respected publication,” Shutt said. “OSU is pleased to be regularly recognized by Kiplinger's as a top value in higher education.”
In a statement, USAO President John Feaver said the rankings reflected not just on the institutions themselves, but the state as a whole.
“USAO is proud to join Oklahoma's two research universities on this independently generated report that emphasizes value,” Feaver said.
“It reflects strong leadership from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the governor's office and the legislature in placing such a high premium on results-based education.”
Topping the list is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is followed by the University of Virginia and the University of Florida.