Princeton University’s generous financial aid makes it, according to MONEY’s analysis, the most affordable member of the Ivy League. The school gives out such large grants to the six in 10 families who qualify (households earning less than $250,000 generally get some aid; those making less than $60,000 get a free ride) that more than 90% of students graduate without any debt.
While in school, undergrads have access to some of the country’s most important intellectual figures, such as economists Paul Krugman and Burton Malkiel, novelist Joyce Carol Oates, and MacArthur "geniuses" Daniel Sigman, a geophysicist, and historian Emily Thompson. Once out of school, Princeton diplomas clearly help in the job market: Recent grads report earning more than $56,000 a year, on average, a premium over similar schools.
Princeton’s park-like campus with ivy-covered Gothic-style buildings is widely considered one of the country’s most beautiful. While there’s no Greek life, most juniors and seniors belong to “eating clubs,” some of which only admit students who pass through a secretive selection process. The Tigers compete in NCAA Division I athletics. If the school defeats both Yale and Harvard in football, it holds a ceremonial bonfire.