University of Vermont
Sally McCay—UVM
By Kaitlin Mulhere
Updated: August 10, 2017 11:23 AM ET

Each year, MONEY digs into enrollment data and student outcomes to determine which colleges provide the best value for your tuition dollars—a process that, this year, yielded the 2017 Best Colleges for Your Money ranking.

But while that list is 711 schools long, we know many students are considering a much smaller set of colleges. In fact, 53% of freshmen at four-year colleges go to school within 100 miles of their home, and more than 80% attend one within 500 miles, according to an annual survey of freshmen from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles.

For them, we produced the following list, identifying the best college in just about every U.S. state. (The exceptions are Alaska and New Mexico, neither of which had any colleges in MONEY’s 2017 rankings.) Alumni, feel free to use this for bragging rights—if you went to Clemson, say, and you’re looking to dis friends who attended that other South Carolina public university.

Some states can claim a top-ranking small liberal arts college, while others stand out for a large public university. All but six of the colleges fall in the top half of MONEY’s rankings, and 21 of the colleges ranked in top 50. A majority—32—are public colleges.

What follows are the highest-ranking colleges in 48 of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia—along with their estimated net price for the coming year (tuition, housing, fees, and other costs, minus average grant aid), and the early career earnings of graduates, drawn from PayScale data on people who graduated in the past five years.


Auburn University
courtesy of Auburn University

Auburn University

—Overall rank: 412
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $23,000
—Early career earnings: $49,300

Football and Greek life are important elements of campus life at this public research university, known for its engineering and veterinary programs. Full profile.


Hayden Library, Arizona State University
Scott Troyanos—Arizona State University

Arizona State University

—Overall rank: 162
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $13,900
—Early career earnings: $49,900

Recent ASU grads tend to do well in the job market, reporting an average early career salary of almost $50,000. That’s 11% higher than graduates from universities with similar student profiles, according to MONEY’s analysis. Full profile.


The University of Arkansas celebrated the role of women throughout the world.
Matt Reynolds—University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas

—Overall rank: 428
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $15,900
—Early career earnings: $48,700

The most notable campus landmark here is U of A’s Senior Walk—three miles of sidewalks engraved with the name of every graduate since the school’s founding in the 1870s. Full profile.


Students, Sproul Plaza, University of California–Berkeley
Hulda Nelson—Elena Zhukova

University of California-Berkeley

—Overall rank: 4
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $17,900
—Early career earnings: $62,100

One of the country’s most elite schools, UC-Berkeley is one of just six public colleges in MONEY’s ranking with a graduation rate above 90%. Full profile.


Colorado School of Mines
courtesy of Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines

—Overall rank: 134
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $26,200
—Early career earnings: $65,700

Graduates of this college, known for its engineering and science programs, report early career earnings that average $65,700—30% above those reported by graduates of colleges with similar student profiles. Full profile.


Renovated and expanded University art gallery, Yale University
Michael Marsland—Yale University

Yale University

—Overall rank: 14
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $19,600
—Early career earnings: $62,600

Yale offers students the opportunity to learn from some of the country’s most impressive minds, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louise Gluck , and famed historian Paul Kennedy. Full profile.

District of Columbia

Healy Hall, Georgetown University
Phil Humnicky—Georgetown University

Georgetown University

—Overall rank: 56
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $28.900
—Early career earnings: $55,200

With the university located just a short drive from the White House and the U.S. Capitol, it’s no surprise that distinguished Georgetown alumni have included several national and political leaders—such as late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former President Bill Clinton. Full profile.


Main Campus, Memorial Hall, University of Delaware
Kathy F. Atkinson—University of Delaware

University of Delaware

—Overall rank: 73
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $16,400
—Early career earnings: $51,900

The University of Delaware helped invent the modern system of collegiate study abroad back in 1923, when a UD professor created a yearlong program in France. Full profile.


University of Florida
Bernard Brzezinski—University of Florida

University of Florida

—Overall rank: 18
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $15,800
—Early career earnings: $49,800

The University of Florida is one of the best bargains in higher education. Tuition is about $6,300 a year for Floridians, 88% of undergraduates get state or other grants, and average student debt is less than $15,000. Full profile.


Georgia Institute of Technology
Austin Foote—Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology

—Overall rank: 16
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $13,800
—Early career earnings: $65,600

Georgia Tech’s students sometimes complain about how challenging their courses are, but hours upon hours of studying seems to pay off: Recent alumni report average salaries that are more than 20% higher than their peers from other tech schools. Full profile.


Law school courtyard, University of Hawaii at Manoa
courtesy of the University of Hawaii at Manoa

University of Hawaii at Manoa

—Overall rank: 510
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $13,700
—Early career earnings: $45,300

Students at Hawaii’s flagship public university can take advantage of its prime location to study Asian and Pacific cultures, foreign languages, tropical agriculture and medicine, ocean and marine science, astronomy, volcanology, and international business. Full profile.


Students on campus in the spring, University of Idaho
Joe Pallen UIPhotoServ—University of Idaho

University of Idaho

—Overall rank: 309
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $14,800
—Early career earnings: $47,600

As a research university, UI offers students ample opportunities for hands-on research in fields including biotechnology, water, transportation, aquaculture, and microelectronics. Full profile.


Atrium at the Business Instructional Facility, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
L. Brian Stauffer—University of Illinois Board of Trustees

University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

—Overall rank: 22
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $18,200
—Early career earnings: $57,700

Per campus tradition, generations of University of Illinois students have rubbed the nose on a campus bust of Abraham Lincoln for good luck before exams. Full profile.


Students on campus in fall, Purdue University
courtesy of Purdue University

Purdue University

—Overall rank: 37
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $12,600
—Early career earnings: $57,700

Purdue is especially well known for its engineering and agriculture programs. Recent graduates report average salaries to PayScale that are 20% higher than colleges with similar demographics, according to MONEY’s calculations. Full profile.


Mount Mercy University
courtesy of Mount Mercy University

Mount Mercy University

—Overall rank: 87
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $21,900
—Early career earnings: $42,300

This Catholic liberal arts school in eastern Iowa was founded as a women’s college—and although men have been admitted since 1969, its student body is still roughly 70% female. Full profile.


Kansas State University
Tommy Theis—KSU DCM Photographic Services

Kansas State University

—Overall rank: 320
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $18,400
—Early career earnings: $48,200

Located in what is sometimes known as “the other Manhattan,” Kansas State was one of the country’s first land-grant colleges. Full profile.


Students Jessica Puckett-Davis, Ahmad Shuja, and Keosha Morgan study outside of Draper on a nice Spring day at Berea College.
O'Neil Arnold–Berea College

Berea College

—Overall rank: 219
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $3,400
—Early career earnings: $34,500

Berea is a standout for affordability. It doesn’t charge tuition at all; instead, students work for the school between 10 and 15 hours a week. Full profile


Landscape Architecture class, Louisiana State University
Jim Zietz—LSU Strategic Communications

Louisiana State University

—Overall rank: 246
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $14,600
—Early career earnings: $48,200

As a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university, LSU has an extensive research arm. Full profile.


After a week of rain, beautiful fall foliage stands out on the Historic Quad, Bates College.
Sarah Crosby—Bates College

Bates College

—Overall rank: 51
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $27,000
—Early career earnings: $51,500

This small New England liberal arts college is known for its friendly students, beautiful campus, and rigorous academics. Full profile.


University of Maryland–College Park
courtesy of the University of Maryland–College Park

University of Maryland-College Park

—Overall rank: 20
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $15,900
—Early career earnings: $55,700

Notable Maryland alumni include Muppets creator Jim Henson, writer-actor Larry David, former Hewlett-Packard CEO (and onetime presidential hopeful) Carly Fiorina, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Full profile.


courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

—Overall rank: 8
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $23,400
—Early career earnings: $77,000

One of the world’s most respected science schools, MIT is home to a notoriously competitive admissions process: About 25% of its students boast perfect scores on their math SAT. Full profile.


4/17/12 Student Erin Kirkland studies into the next day in the Law School Reading Room during a Day in the Life of the University of Michigan on April 17, 2012.
Austin Thomason—UM Photography

University of Michigan

—Overall rank: 3
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $17,000
—Early career earnings: $61,200

Michigan is a classic, all-around all-star. The school is known for elite research, exceptional academics, and championship-winning athletic teams. Even its town, Ann Arbor, is consistently rated one of the nation’s top college towns. Full profile.


Martin Luther College
courtesy of Martin Luther College

Martin Luther College

—Overall rank: 48
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $19,100
—Early career earnings: $36,000

Martin Luther College—which trains students who want to become pastors, teachers, and staff ministers—is a standout for affordability. Full profile.


Inspirational banners in McCool Hall, Mississippi State University
Raeley Stevens—Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University

—Overall rank: 344
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $16,700
—Early career earnings: $47,000

One of MSU’s best-known traditions traces back to a stray cow wandering onto the football field years ago (or so legend tells us). Today, thousands of students ring cowbells in the stadium as they cheer on their Bulldogs. Full profile.


Tommy Thompson—Tommy Thompson 2009

College of the Ozarks

—Overall rank: 73
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $14,700
—Early career earnings: $40,200

College of the Ozarks, nicknamed “Hard Work U,” requires all students to work on campus 15 hours a week. Together with state grants, federal grants, and college scholarships, those work hours cover a student’s entire tuition. Full profile.


Pre-med student Rachel Radenberg, Montana State University
Kelly Gorham—MSU

Montana State University

—Overall rank: 364
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $15,600
—Early career earnings: $49,300

Montana’s largest university draws about 40% of students from out-of-state. Many are drawn in by MSU’s reputation for undergraduate research, along with its proximity to Yellowstone National Park. Full profile.


NRES 101 - Natural Resources Orientation class spend the afternoon at Holmes Lake where they electrofished and learned about organisms in the water which were viewed through microscopes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, September 26, 2013.
Craig Chandler—Office of University Communications

University of Nebraska

—Overall rank: 316
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $16,900
—Early career earnings: $45,300

With a team dubbed the Cornhuskers, it’s not surprising that Nebraska’s flagship public university is known for strong agricultural sciences and natural resources programs. Full profile.


University of Nevada-Reno
Jeff Dow—Copyright:copyright jeff dow

University of Nevada-Reno

—Overall rank: 493
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $16,700
—Early career earnings: $48,000

Among the university’s standout programs is the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, which offers relatively unusual specializations in metallurgical and mining engineering. Full profile.

New Hampshire

Dartmouth College
courtesy of Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College

—Overall rank: 32
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $23,100
—Early career earnings: $62,000

Nearly 90% of Dartmouth freshmen finish with a degree in four years—one of the highest rates in the country. Full profile.

New Jersey

Chancellor Green bulding, Princeton University
courtesy of Princeton University

Princeton University

—Overall rank: 1
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $19,300
—Early career earnings: $67,600

More than 80% of students wind up graduating Princeton without any debt at all, in part because the school gives out such large grants to the six in 10 families who qualify. Full profile.

New York

Students in the Newman Vertical Campus, CUNY Baruch
Matthieu Asselin—CUNY Baruch

CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College

—Overall rank: 2
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $9,800
—Early career earnings: $51,600

Baruch enrolls a large share of students from low-income backgrounds and prepares them for careers with high average salaries—giving it one of the country’s highest rates of socioeconomic mobility. Full profile.

North Carolina

Students use the Hunt Library, North Carolina State University
Marc Hall—NC State

North Carolina State University-Raleigh

—Overall rank: 50
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $14,700
—Early career earnings: $52,500

In their first five years after graduating, N.C. State alums report average salaries that are 10% higher than students from similar universities, according to MONEY’s calculations. Full profile.

North Dakota

courtesy of North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University

—Overall rank: 239
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $15,800
—Early career earnings: $49,900

Founded as a land-grant university, NDSU has strong programs in agriculture and animal sciences. Full profile.


Ohio Union grand opening event, March 29, 2010.
Jo McCulty—The Ohio State University

Ohio State University

—Overall rank: 102
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $20,000
—Early career earnings: $51,500

One of the largest universities in the country, Ohio State is probably best known outside of Ohio for its accomplished athletic teams, but the college can hold its own in academics, too. Plus, it produces some of the country’s most passionate alumni. Full profile.


Brett Deering—Getty Images

University of Oklahoma

—Overall rank: 180
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $18,300
—Early career earnings: $50,000

An Oklahoma bachelor’s degree costs an estimated $93,000, giving in-state Sooners a comparatively affordable higher education. (Only 15% of the colleges ranked by MONEY offer a degree for less than $100,000.) Full profile.


Joel Bock—Joel Bock

George Fox University

—Overall rank: 191
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $29,000
—Early career earnings: $50,900

This Christian college southwest of Portland is going through a growth spurt. The student body has increased sixfold in the past 20 years, and the school is now home to more than 2,600 undergrads. Full profile.


Lamont W. Abrams Jr.—University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

—Overall rank: 27
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $25,800
—Early career earnings: $61,900

The university’s business and economics programs are known to be especially demanding, but they pay off. Business majors report average earnings of $69,000, putting Penn among the top undergraduate business programs. Full profile.

Rhode Island

Students on the Quiet Green in autumn, Brown University
Mike Cohea—© Brown University

Brown University

—Overall rank: 34
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $24,800
—Early career earnings: $60,600

This Ivy League school gives students an unusual amount of academic freedom: The only course requirement is that they take at least one writing class by the end of sophomore year. Full profile.

South Carolina

Clemson University
courtesy of Clemson University

Clemson University

—Overall rank: 61
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $18,000
—Early career earnings: $54,100

Recent Clemson graduates bring in salaries about 6% higher than graduates of similar colleges, according to MONEY’s calculations. Full profile.

South Dakota

Augustana University
courtesy of Augustana University

Augustana University

—Overall rank: 168
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $20,800
—Early career earnings: $41,900

After grants and scholarships, Augustana is a relatively affordable private college: Almost all students receive some kind of grant, and among students receiving grants based on financial need, the college meets 95% of the amount required. Full profile.


Vanderbilt University
courtesy of Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University

—Overall rank: 15
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $24,800
—Early career earnings: $57,900

One of the most elite colleges in the south, Vanderbilt offers students world-class pre-med, education, and liberal arts programs. Full profile.


Undergraduate research nano lab, Rice University.
courtesy of Rice University

Rice University

—Overall rank: 12
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $24,300
—Early career earnings: $63,100

Rice stands out for its alumni outcomes: Average student debt is less than $10,000, and recent graduates report average salaries that are 16% higher than similar colleges, according to MONEY’s analysis. Full profile.


Brigham Young University
Mark A. Philbrick—BYU

Brigham Young University-Provo

—Overall rank: 105
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $13,900
—Early career earnings: $52,800

BYU is in the top 3% of the colleges ranked by MONEY for affordability, with the net price of a degree coming in below $90,000. Average student debt is low and graduates report above-average salaries. Full profile.


Orchestra in the auditorium, University of Virginia
Cade Martin—University of Virginia

University of Virginia

—Overall rank: 11
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $15,700
—Early career earnings: $58,000

Known for its highly competitive admissions process, UVA has the highest graduation rate of any public university in the country, at 93%. Full profile.


University of Vermont
Sally McCay—UVM

University of Vermont

—Overall rank: 115
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $18,700
—Early career earnings: $45,300

University of Vermont’s student body is known to attract liberal, intelligent, outdoorsy types. The college has a graduation rate that’s 8% higher than colleges that enroll similar students, based on MONEY’s calculations. Full profile.


Mary Levin—University of Washinton

University of Washington-Seattle

—Overall rank: 13
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $10,500
—Early career earnings: $55,200

The flagship Seattle campus of the University of Washington has emerged as a research and science powerhouse in the past several years, with strong programs in engineering and social sciences, plus a particular expertise in aeronautics. Full profile.

West Virginia

University of West Virginia
courtesy of the University of We

West Virginia University

—Overall rank: 430
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $11,200
—Early career earnings: $48,400

For in-state students, WVU offers one of the country’s most affordable educations, pricing in below 97% of the colleges in MONEY’s rankings. Full profile.


Students make their way between classes on the steps of Agricultural Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Bryce Richter—U of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin-Madison

—Overall rank: 45
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $17,300
—Early career earnings: $51,200

For one of the country’s top public research universities, UW-Madison has a reassuring acceptance rate: More than half of applicants make the cut. Full profile.


"Wyoming Cowboy" statue, outside of the Gateway Center.
Ted Brummond—UW Photo Service

University of Wyoming

—Overall rank: 288
—Estimated 2017-18 net price: $13,100
—Early career earnings: $48,400

The University of Wyoming is the only four-year college in the state, and more than 90% of students who apply are admitted. Yet the college still ranks within the top half of MONEY’s colleges, in part because of its affordability. Full profile.


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