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The 25 Colleges That Add the Most Value

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Students at UC-Irvine (No. 32) enjoy great research facilities and access to Nobel Prize-winning science professors. Bob O'Connor

These 25 schools are the Value All Stars of the MONEY Best Colleges rankings.

It’s not surprising that elite schools have high graduation rates or that their alumni go on to earn a lot of money. Such schools, after all, generally start with high-achieving (and well-to-do) students who have the talent and resources to thrive in almost any environment. So we set out to determine which schools actually add the most value, taking into account the economic and academic profiles of the incoming students and, in the case of earnings, the mix of majors at each school.

The following colleges, in other words, turn out graduates who exceed the averages for their peer groups by the widest margin. The factors considered included the percentage of students who complete college and how much alumni typically earn.

SCHOOL LOCATION OVERALL RANK GRADUATION RATE OUTPERFORMANCE EARNINGS OUTPERFORMANCE
1. Mount St. Mary’s College Los Angeles, Calif. 122 23% $13,930
2. University of California-Irvine Irvine, Calif. 32 23% 9,400
3. Art Center College of Design Pasadena, Calif. 177 19% 11,990
4. Maine Maritime Academy Castine, Maine 12 18% 21,600
4. Holy Family University Philadelphia, Pa. 68 16% 12,150
6. Manhattan College Riverdale, N.Y. 40 14% 19,700
7. University of Washington-Bothell Bothell, Wash. 37 11% 12,260
8. La Salle University Philadelphia, Pa. 166 18% 10,270
9. Rutgers University-Newark Newark, N.J. 107 7% 10,550
9. California State University-Northridge Northridge, Calif. 189 8% 8,650
11. Gwynedd Mercy University Gwynedd Valley, Pa. 208 25% 4,410
12. California State University-San Bernadino San Bernadino, Calif. 189 7% 9,110
13. University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, Ill. 101 4% 8,730
14. College of Our Lady of the Elms Chicopee, Mass. 107 23% 5,000
15. Monmouth College Monmouth, Ill. 257 18% 3,500
15. Woodbury University Burbank, Calif. 471 14% 2,860
17. Saint Vincent College Latrobe, Pa. 82 16% 3,830
18. University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, Calif. 31 14% 3,510
19. Doane College-Crete Crete, Neb. 61 8% 10,150
20. San Diego State University San Diego, Calif. 150 9% 3,900
21. Fairfield University Fairfield, Conn. 147 12% 8,060
21. Merrimack College North Andover, Mass. 235 9% 10,320
23. Washington State University Pullman, Wash. 138 12% 6,420
23. Illinois State University Normal, Ill. 177 14% 2,170
25. Bradley University Peoria, Ill. 86 12% 7,860
25. University of California-Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, Calif. 95 9% 4,350
NOTES: The graduation rate outperformance represents the percentage by which the school’s graduation rate exceeds the average for schools with student bodies from similar socioeconomic and academic backgrounds; the earnings outperformance represents how much more the average graduate earns than would be predicted (measured by the percentage of Pell Grant recipients and average standardized test scores and, for earnings, the mix of majors at the school). Also considered: student-loan default rates. SOURCES: IPEDS, Peterson’s, Payscale.com, MONEY/College Measures calculations

 

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