By Kaitlin Mulhere
Updated: September 28, 2018 11:42 AM ET | Originally published: September 24, 2018

There are plenty of factors to weigh when researching your potential list of colleges: Cost. Graduation rates. Academic offerings. Social scene.

One of the most important? Location.

Roughly half of freshmen at four-year colleges go to a college with 100 miles of their home, according to an annual survey of freshmen from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles. That means while it may be interesting for rising juniors and seniors to learn about the country’s top-ranking colleges; it’s likely more useful to pay attention to how the colleges in your home state perform.

To help with that, MONEY sliced our 2018 Best Colleges list geographically to highlight the top-ranking college in every U.S. state. (There are two exceptions: Alaska and New Mexico, neither of which have colleges that made it past MONEY’s initial quality screens to be included in our list of 727 colleges.) Our list of state winners, like our overall ranking, is a diverse mix: 32 are public colleges, three are technology-focused, and five have religious backgrounds.


Alabama – Auburn University

Auburn University
Courtesy of Auburn University
  • Overall rank: 375
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $23,300
  • Early career earnings: $50,700

Notable Auburn alums include Apple CEO Tim Cook, actress Octavia Spencer, and Kathryn Thornton, the second American woman to walk in space. Full profile.


Arizona – Arizona State University

Arizona State University–Tempe
Andy DeLisle—Arizona Board of Regents
  • Overall rank: 115
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $14,000
  • Early career earnings: $51,400

Popular majors at ASU include business, social sciences, engineering and biological sciences, and the university has developed a reputation in recent years for implementing innovative higher education programs. Full profile.


Arkansas – John Brown University

John Brown University
Mark Jackson
  • Overall rank: 267
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $21,100
  • Early career earnings: $44,000

A small Christian university in the northwest corner of the state, John Brown University’s graduation rate is 5% higher than colleges that enroll students with similar academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, according to MONEY’s calculations. Full profile.


California – University of California at San Diego

University of California at San Diego
Robert Benson for MONEY
  • Overall rank: 2
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $15,900
  • Early career earnings: $58,600

A well-known research university, UC-San Diego this year leads the pack of high-ranking University of California system school this year. San Diego boasts one of the country’s highest graduation for public colleges, top scores for economic mobility, and all those sunny days. Full profile.


Colorado – Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines
Ronald Kem
  • Overall rank: 140
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $26,900
  • Early career earnings: $71,900

Colorado School of Mines is known for its engineering programs–one likely reason recent graduates report such high salaries. Full profile.


Connecticut – Yale University

Yale University
Michael Marsland
  • Overall rank: 15
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $19,700
  • Early career earnings: $66,800

Students at Yale have access to some of the country’s most impressive minds, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller and famed historian Paul Kennedy. Full profile.


Delaware – University of Delaware

University of Delaware
Corey Perrine—Getty Images
  • Overall rank: 68
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $17,100
  • Early career earnings: $54,300

The university places high in MONEY’s rankings in part because of its affordability, coming in at under $100,000 for the net price of a degree. Full profile.


District of Columbia – Georgetown

Georgetown University
Jacquelyn Martin/AP/REX—Shutterstock
  • Overall rank: 46
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $28,600
  • Early career earnings: $61,400

Georgetown’s proximity make it a draw for students interested in politics and international relations, and classes regularly welcome Washington’s elite for guest lectures. Full profile.


Florida – University of Florida

University of Florida
Bernard Brzezinski—University of Florida
  • Overall rank: 23
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $15,800
  • Early career earnings: $52,200

The University of Florida is a triple threat: strong scores for affordability, high graduation rates, and one of the strongest college sports franchises in the country. Full profile. Full profile.


Georgia – Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology–Main Campus
Austin Foote
  • Overall rank: 19
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $14,300
  • Early career earnings: $68,100

Courses at Georgia Tech are demanding, but they pay off. Graduates report early career salaries that are 19% higher than graduates of similar colleges. Full profile.


Hawaii – University of Hawaii at Manoa

University of Hawaii at Manoa
Colin Macdonald
  • Overall rank: 520
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $14,500
  • Early career earnings: $48,600

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.


Idaho – University of Idaho

University of Idaho
Joe Pallen UIPhotoServ
  • Overall rank: 413
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $15,900
  • Early career earnings: $49,300

When they’re not stuck in the library, students at U of I’s Moscow campus have plenty of nearby outdoor activities–including skiing, biking, climbing, whitewater rafting–to keep them busy. Full profile.


Illinois – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
L. Brian Stauffer—UI Public Affairs
  • Overall rank: 25
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $17,900
  • Early career earnings: $58,600

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.


Indiana – University of Notre Dame

Univeristy of Notre Dame
Matt Cashore—Matt Cashore
  • Overall rank: 30
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $28,700
  • Early career earnings: $62,500

Fighting Irish grads include talk show hosts Regis Philbin and Phil Donahue, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Major League Baseball Vice President Joe Garagiola Jr., and football hall of famer Joe Montana. Full profile.


Iowa – Iowa State University

Iowa State University of Science and Technology
Jason Jones
  • Overall rank: 375
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $23,300
  • Early career earnings: $50,700

Iowa State is known for its agriculture, math, and science programs, and it offers a degree that’s among the ten most affordable of MONEY’s 700-plus ranked colleges. Full profile.


Kansas – Kansas State University

Kansas State University
David Mayes—Kansas State University Communic
  • Overall rank: 301
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $17,600
  • Early career earnings: $50,000

Kansas State can claim a wide range of accolades, from its unique Biosecurity Research Institute to the welcoming college town feel of its location, sometimes called “the other Manhattan.” Full profile.


Kentucky – Berea College

Berea College
O'Neil Arnold
  • Overall rank: 205
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $3,100
  • Early career earnings: $39,200

Instead of charging tuition, Berea requires all students work between 10 and 15 hours a week to help pay their way. As a result, many students graduate without debt, and the average burden is just $5,800. Full profile.


Louisiana – Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University
Jim Zietz—LSU Strategic Communications
  • Overall rank: 274
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $16,200
  • Early career earnings: $51,800

Football and Greek life are important elements of campus life at Louisiana’s flagship state university. Full profile.


Maine – Bates College

Bates College
Courtesy of Bates College
  • Overall rank: 52
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $25,800
  • Early career earnings: $55,800

Bates is a small liberal arts college known for its tight-knit campus community. One of the college’s oldest ongoing traditions is an annual Winter Carnival–perhaps unsurprising for a college where winter weather lasts for a solid six months. Full profile.


Maryland – University of Maryland

University of Maryland–College Park
University of Maryland–College Park
  • Overall rank: 28
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $16,200
  • Early career earnings: $51,800

Like most large public universities, Maryland’s academic offerings and expertise are vast. The faculty roster boasts three Nobel laureates, six Pulitzer Prize winners and, thanks to the campus’s proximity to the District of Columbia, leaders in major positions at federal agencies such as NASA and the National Institutes of Health. Full profile.


Massachusetts – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jake Belcher
  • Overall rank: 6
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $23,200
  • Early career earnings: $81,500

MIT is one of the world’s most prestigious tech schools–and that reputation pays off. Recent graduates report earnings that are 10% higher than other colleges with a STEM focus. Full profile.


Michigan – University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
Courtesy of the University of Mi
  • Overall rank: 9
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $17,300
  • Early career earnings: $59,300

Michigan’s premiere public university has many claims to fame. Among the academic ones: The National Science Foundation ranks Michigan as the top public research university in terms of money spent on research and development, a position the school has held since 2010. Full profile


Minnesota – University of Minnesota at Twin Cities

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
Patrick O'Leary
  • Overall rank: 77
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $17,400
  • Early career earnings: $53,400

The University of Minnesota prides itself on its reputation for research. One of its early inventors was Professor James J. “Crash” Ryan, who held a patent for the first retractable seatbelt and also invented the flight data recorder, or the “black box,” that’s required on all commercial airplanes today. Full profile.


Mississippi – Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University
Bill Simmonds
  • Overall rank: 348
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $16,800
  • Early career earnings: $47,900

MSU students embrace their rural roots. Thousands ring cowbells in the stadium as they cheer on their Bulldogs teams, a tradition that, according to legend, began when a stray cow wandered onto the football field and was embraced as a good luck charm. Full profile.


Missouri – Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in Saint Louis
James Byard—WUSTL Photos
  • Overall rank: 129
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $30,900
  • Early career earnings: $60,100

Students at Washington University in St. Louis tell Niche.com that everyone there embraces a work hard-play hard mentally. And they brag about the qualify of their dorms and campus food. Full profile.


Montana – Montana State University

Montana State University
Kelly Gorham—Montana State University
  • Overall rank: 428
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $16,100
  • Early career earnings: $50,900

Montana State University could also go by the name, “University of the Yellowstone.” The campus is about 90 miles away from the iconic park and faculty and students use it frequently for research and recreation. Full profile.


Nebraska – University of Nebraska at Lincoln

University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Craig Chandler—Office of University Communicati
  • Overall rank: 265
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $17,700
  • Early career earnings: $48,700

Nebraska’s largest public university is known for the strength of its engineering, agriculture, fine arts, and journalism programs. On Saturdays in the fall, students (and many state residents) turn out to cheer on the Cornhuskers in a football atmosphere that could compete with any of the country’s top programs. Full profile.


Nevada – University of Nevada at Reno

University of Nevada-Reno
Jeff Dow
  • Overall rank: 465
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $16,100
  • Early career earnings: $50,300

The most popular majors at University of Nevada at Reno are typical at many colleges: business, biology, health sciences and psychology. But journalism is also among the most popular here, and its no wonder why–the college has produced at least six Pulitzer Prize winners. Full profile.


New Hampshire – Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College
Courtesy of Dartmouth College
  • Overall rank: 44
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $22,700
  • Early career earnings: $66,300

The smallest school in the Ivy League, Dartmouth emphasizes undergraduate pedagogy. Outside of classes, Greek life–in which about half of students participate–is popular, as is outdoor recreation. Full profile.


New Jersey – Princeton University

Princeton University
Denise Applewhite—Princeton University, Office of
  • Overall rank: 1
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $19,000
  • Early career earnings: $69,800

Princeton University has placed no. 1 in MONEY’s college rankings three years in a row. One reason why: the school’s outstanding financial aid policy, which covers full tuition for families earning up to $160,000. Full profile.


New York – CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College
Mathieu Asselin
  • Overall rank: 8
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $10,200
  • Early career earnings: $54,500

Recent Baruch graduates report salaries that are 16% higher than graduates from similar universities. Those strong salaries, along with the students it admits, help Baruch claim one of the country’s highest scores for socioeconomic mobility, according to The Equality of Opportunity Project. Full profile.


North Carolina – North Carolina State University at Raleigh

North Carolina State University
Marc Hall—NC State
  • Overall rank: 31
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $14,000
  • Early career earnings: $53,800

N.C. State has a solid 78% graduation rate, which is 10% higher than would be expected based on the academic preparation and economic background of students, according to MONEY’s calculations. Full profile.


North Dakota – North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University
Dan Koeck
  • Overall rank: 227
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $15,700
  • Early career earnings: $51,400

Founded as a land grant university, North Dakota State University remains strong in agriculture and animal sciences offerings. Recent grads report salaries that are about 6% higher than their peers from similar colleges. Full profile.


Ohio – Ohio State University

Ohio State University
Courtesy of Ohio State Universit
  • Overall rank: 120
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $19,300
  • Early career earnings: $51,900

One of the biggest universities in the nation as well as one of the proudest, Ohio State has about 45,000 students. Football unites the campus and links alumni across the country for decades after graduation. Full profile.


Oklahoma – University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma
Sue Ogrocki/AP/REX—Shutterstock
  • Overall rank: 224
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $19,300
  • Early career earnings: $51,700

Norman, where some 25,000 students at the University of Oklahoma live, is a classic college town with Sooner flags flying from porches and OU garb adorning students and locals alike. Full profile.


Oregon – University of Portland

University of Portland
Adam Guggenheim—Courtesy of th
  • Overall rank: 115
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $34,100
  • Early career earnings: $55,100

University of Portland is a private Catholic university that is focusing on helping students graduate on time. The four-year graduation rate is now 75% — up 16 percentage points over the past decade. Full profile.


Pennsylvania – University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania
Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Overall rank: 14
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $24,600
  • Early career earnings: $68,100

About 95% of freshmen graduate, putting Penn among the top 10 colleges with the highest graduation rates in the country. Among the most elite departments within Penn are business and economics, which are notoriously demanding. Full profile.


Rhode Island – Brown University

Brown University
Mike Cohea—Brown University
  • Overall rank: 59
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $27,100
  • Early career earnings: $63,000

Brown 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. Grades are often optional: Most classes can be taken pass/fail. And students can design their own majors. Full profile.


South Carolina – Clemson University

Clemson University
Courtesy of Clemson University
  • Overall rank: 72
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $19,100
  • Early career earnings: $54,300

Just about everybody at Clemson has an enormous amount of pride in their school and especially its football team, the Tigers, as well as a fierce rivalry with the other major public university: University of South Carolina. Full profile.


South Dakota – Augustana University

Augustana University
Courtesy of Augustana University
  • Overall rank: 277
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $21,400
  • Early career earnings: $44,800

This private liberal arts college with ties to the Lutheran Church got its start back in 1835 in Illinois, where its sister school (called Augustana College and also in MONEY’s rankings) still exists. After grants and scholarships, Augustana is a relatively affordable private college. Almost all students receive some kind of grant. Full profile.


Tennessee – Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University
Courtesy of Vanderbilt Universit
  • Overall rank: 18
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $24,900
  • Early career earnings: $61,100

Vanderbilt alumni including Al Gore, Lamar Alexander, and Rosanne Cash make up a who’s who of Southern politics and culture. Full profile.


Texas – Rice University

Rice University
Jeff Fitlow
  • Overall rank: 13
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $23,700
  • Early career earnings: $65,700

Social life at this elite university revolves around residential houses. They compete in activities such as water balloon fights and the annual Beer Bike relay race, which requires cyclists to chug beer (or water) and then pedal laps. Full profile.


Utah – Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University
Nate Edwards
  • Overall rank: 102
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $13,800
  • Early career earnings: $55,400

Brigham Young University is a standout for affordability. MONEY calculates its total cost of a degree is less than $90,000, and the average student debt burden is less than half the national average. Full profile.


Vermont – University of Vermont

University of Vermont
Sally McCay
  • Overall rank: 135
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $19,100
  • Early career earnings: $49,500

University of Vermont’s campus in Burlington is a major draw: the city is crawling with young people thanks to UVM and nearby Champlain College, and it’s a haven for local music, art, and food. The views of the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain also don’t hurt, either. Full profile.


Virginia – University of Virginia

University of Virginia
Dan Addison—U.Va. Public Affairs
  • Overall rank: 10
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $17,100
  • Early career earnings: $59,500

Known as a “public Ivy,” the University of Virginia boasts the highest graduation rate of any public college in the country. Full profile.


Washington – University of Washington at Seattle

University of Washington–Seattle
Courtesy of the University of Wa
  • Overall rank: 19
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $10,800
  • Early career earnings: $57,300

The flagship Seattle campus of the University of Washington has emerged as one of the world’s leading research universities, and because of its proximity to Boeing’s manufacturing facilities, the school has a particular expertise in aeronautics and counts many astronauts among its alums. Full profile.


West Virginia – West Virginia University

West Virginia University
Courtesy of West Virginia University
  • Overall rank: 496
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $11,600
  • Early career earnings: $50,800

For in-state students, West Virginia University offers one of the country’s most affordable educations. Recent grads also report salaries that are 7% higher than similar colleges. Full profile.


Wisconsin – University of Wisconsin at Madison

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Bryce Richter—U of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Overall rank: 48
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $17,000
  • Early career earnings: $53,400

Wisconsin’s major public university is well-rounded: Academics, athletics, cool college town? Check, check, check. Plus, more than half of applicants are accepted, reassuring when you consider it’s one of the best public colleges in the country. Full profile.


Wyoming – University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming
Ted Brummond—UW Photo Service
  • Overall rank: 349
  • Est. 2018-2019 price with average grant: $14,100
  • Early career earnings: $49,700

The University of Wyoming is actually older than the state of Wyoming, and today it remains the state’s only four-year college. Full profile.

 

This article has been updated to correct the name of Dartmouth College, which was mistakenly identified as Dartmouth University.

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