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In addition to our overall ranking, we've sorted schools by additional criteria (public vs. private, liberal arts, affordability, and more) to create the following "best" lists. Please read on.

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Top 50 Colleges At a Glance

Babson College, Wellesley, MA
Bob O'Connor

These 50 schools went to the head of the class in MONEY's new college rankings.

Which of the nation’s roughly 1,500 four-year colleges and universities provide the biggest bang for your tuition buck—that is, offer students a great education at a comparatively reasonable price that usually leads to a well-paid career? To find out, culled the list of schools to those with a graduation rate at or above the median in its category (public or private), then screened out those with financial difficulties or insufficient data. That left 665 colleges, which were then ranked on 18 factors in three equally-weighted categories: educational quality, affordability, and alumni earnings (included: a “value added” grade that rated each college in light of the economic and academic background of its students and the types of majors that predominate at the institution). These 50 schools went to the head of the class.

1 Babson College Wellesley, Mass. A $198,900 $59,700
2 Webb Institute Glen Cove, N.Y. B $77,600 $65,400
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Mass. B $154,800 $68,600
4 Princeton University Princeton, N.J. B $146,200 $56,100
5 Stanford University Stanford, Calif. B+ $168,800 $61,300
6 Harvard University Cambridge, Mass. B $181,200 $55,300
7 Harvey Mudd College Claremont, Calif. B+ $187,700 $73,300
8 Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art New York, N.Y. B- $146,800 $61,400
9 Brigham Young University Provo, Utah A- $82,000 $50,000
10 California Institute of Technology Pasadena, Calif. B- $174,800 $68,400
11 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pa. B+ $201,600 $57,200
12 Maine Maritime Academy Castine, Maine A $105,000 $64,100
13 University of California – Berkeley Berkeley, Calif. A- $126,800 $54,700
14 Williams College Williamstown, Mass. B $168,600 $50,400
15 Yale University New Haven, Conn. B $182,800 $50,000
16 University of Virginia Charlottesville, Va. B $94,100 $51,000
17 Amherst College Amherst, Mass. B $156,700 $53,000
18 Virginia Military Institute Lexington, Va. B+ $89,100 $54,200
19 Brown University Providence, R.I. B+ $192,000 $52,300
20 Rice University Houston, Texas B- $149,900 $55,700
20 Notre Dame Notre Dame, Ind. B $184,500 $54,000
22 University of Michigan – Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, Mich. B $94,500 $54,000
22 Columbia University New York, N.Y B- $206,800 $57,600
24 Texas A & M University College Station, Texas B+ $86,000 $51,900
24 Cornell University Ithaca, N.Y. B $194,300 $57,000
24 Dartmouth College Hanover, N.H. B $189,000 $55,000
27 Colgate University Hamilton, N.Y B $186,500 $51,800
28 Bentley University Waltham, Mass. A $177,500 $54,700
28 University of Florida Gainesville, Fla. B+ $87,000 $47,600
28 Lafayette College Easton, Pa. B+ $178,400 $57,600
31 University of California – Los Angeles Los Angeles, Calif. A $126,700 $49,600
32 Swarthmore College Swarthmore, Pa. B- $174,800 $51,000
32 Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pa. B+ $190,600 $58,500
32 Principia College Elsah, Ill. B $65,500 $42,200
32 University of California – Irvine Irvine, Calif. A $122,900 $48,900
32 Duke University Durham, N.C. B $192,800 $55,900
37 University of Washington at Bothell Bothell, Wash. A $125,700 $52,100
37 Georgetown University Washington, D.C. B+ $204,500 $53,000
39 Washington and Lee University Lexington, Va. B $149,400 $48,000
40 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, N.C. B $84,100 $44,200
40 Manhattan College Riverdale, N.Y. A $161,500 $55,200
42 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, Ga. B- $107,800 $60,700
42 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, Va. B+ $115,300 $51,700
44 Bowdoin College Brunswick, Maine B- $179,800 $48,500
45 Bucknell University Lewisburg, Pa. B+ $198,100 $53,400
46 University of California – San Diego La Jolla, Calif. A $124,900 $49,300
47 University of Washington at Seattle Seattle, Wash. B+ $117,500 $49,300
47 Middlebury College Middlebury, Vt. B $202,800 $51,900
47 Claremont McKenna College Claremont, Calif. B $196,700 $50,100
50 Pomona College Claremont, Calif. B- $162,800 $48,500
50 Massachusetts Maritime Academy Buzzards Bay, Mass. B $98,700 $54,700
50 Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tenn. C+ $160,800 $52,100
NOTES: One-year sticker price includes tuition, room, board, books, travel, and miscellaneous expenses. Net price of degree is estimated cost from freshman year to graduation, taking into account all scholarships and grants awarded by the school, inflation, and the average time it takes students to graduate. Public school prices are for in-state students. Value-added grade reflects how much better that school’s students perform, on average, on graduation rates, student loan defaults, and earnings than would be expected given their economic and academic background (measured by the percentage of Pell Grant recipients and average standardized test scores and, for earnings, the mix of majors). Estimated average total loan balance on graduation. Average annual self-reported earnings for respondents who graduated within the past five years. SOURCES: IPEDS, Peterson’s,, MONEY/College Measures calculations

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