Staying close to home in Whatcom County might be a good value for college-bound students.
According to the list, only the University of Washington, Seattle, ranked ahead of WWU with an annual online tuition of $10,395 and an academic strength, which was calculated using schools' average college entrance exam scores, of 76 percent.
Western was right behind with an annual tuition of $11,250 and an academic strength of 68 percent.
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Washington State, Northwest University and Eastern Washington rounded out the top five, according to the list.
The rankings list WWU as offering an online bachelor's degree in Human Services and an online certificate program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Western's online Human Services degree program was ranked 17th-best value in the nation in that field behind top-ranked University of the Cumberlands.
On campus, Western Washington also was ranked the fifth-best value among colleges in Washington state, according to another recent report released by Seattle-based Payscale.com. WWU was behind the University of Washington, Bothell; Seattle University; Gonzaga and Washington State.
According to Payscale, in-state graduates of WWU could expect to make approximately $351,000 more in 20 years than someone who had just a high school diploma. The national average for colleges was $225,000.
Payscale ranked Western's in-state program tied for 356th nationally out of nearly 1,900 programs that were ranked. WWU's out-of-state program tied for 497th nationally, as graduates could expect to make $303,000 more in 20 years than a high school graduate.
According to the study, Western owns a 69-percent graduation rate and four years of attending the school costs $91,800 for in-state students and $140,000 for out-of-state students.