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The Buffalo region is home to some of the best college values in the nation, a new U.S. News & World Report survey suggests.

Four private colleges are among the 15 colleges the magazine lists as “best value” among regional universities in the Northeast.

Alfred University ranked No. 3, followed by St. Bonaventure, No. 5; Canisius College, No. 7; and Niagara University, No. 12.

The University at Buffalo also was mentioned among the Top 10 universities in the nation for students graduating with the least amount of debt.

In that category, UB ranked No. 9 among the nation’s public and private universities.

The rankings released Tuesday come less than three weeks after President Obama visited UB to talk about curbing the rising cost of college.

“At a time when colleges are coming under a lot of scrutiny nationally, it’s reassuring to know that we’re still considered such a great value,” said Sister Margaret Carney, president of St. Bonaventure University.

“People often become fixated on the literal bottom line without considering how generous our scholarship and aid packages are,” she said.

Tuition is $26,900 at Niagara; $27,824 at Alfred; $29,589 at Bonaventure; and $31,990 at Canisius.

But when taking into account need-based financial aid, the average cost is $21,931 at Alfred; $22,224 at Bonaventure; $23,069 at Niagara; and $25,014 at Canisius, according to the magazine.

The news comes as no surprise to those at the local colleges.

“We have a history of being ranked in the best values, and it’s really based upon our commitment to be as affordable as possible,” said Earl E. Pierce, vice president for enrollment manager at Alfred.

Higher-education institutions throughout upstate New York have had to keep their prices affordable because of the relatively poor local economy and modest family incomes, college officials said.

“I think a lot of the schools that are ranked in that Top 15 are recruiting from this local market, and the local market is price sensitive,” said Canisius President John J. Hurley. “It kind of forces us to be very competitive on price and make more financial aid available.”

Canisius, for example, sets aside a large pot for financial aid and tries to control costs to keep down expenses, Hurley said.

“We always work to keep our cost down,” added Thomas J. Burns, associate vice president for communications at Niagara.

“Because of our local economy, students may be more challenged financially, so I think schools here have to respond to that,” Burns said.

The U.S. News & World Report’s “best colleges” list always proves controversial but is watched closely by institutions because of the publication’s popularity with students and parents.

UB – which has fluctuated between No. 106 last year and No. 124 in 2004 – tied this year for No. 109 on the list among major public and private institutions in the nation.

The top schools, in order, are Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University and Stanford University.

Among comprehensive regional universities in the Northeast, Canisius tied for No. 27, followed by Alfred University, No. 30; St. Bonaventure, No. 33; Brockport State College, tied for No. 54; Niagara, also No. 54; Fredonia State College, tied for No. 60; and SUNY Buffalo State, No. 101.

Among regional colleges in the North, Alfred State College ranked No. 17, and Hilbert College ranked No. 46.

For a complete list of the rankings, check out colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings.

email: jrey@buffnews.com