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Best Colleges for the Money
College is a huge investment for students, and often for parents. If you are hoping to get the most value for your college tuition dollar, you might start with this list from Money magazine. Money ranked schools in three categories: educational quality, affordability and alumni earnings. Then they added a “value added” grade that measures how well students at a school did compared with how they might have been expected to do, given their backgrounds and the majors available at the institution.
These are the top 10 schools in the Money rankings:
1. Stanford University. The cost of attending is steep, with the net price of a degree being more than $178,000. But the payoff is also big: Graduates are making an average of $64,400 within five years. The school boasts a world-famous faculty, and it also very generous with financial aid.
2. Babson College. This school, located in Wellesley, Mass., offers only a B.S. in business. The average cost of attendance tops $200,000, but the average grad salary within five years tops $60,000. And the school’s unique, hands-on approach that emphasizes entrepreneurship helped Babson earn an A in the value-added category.
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A premier science school, MIT accepts only 8 percent of students who apply. An education there costs almost $167,000. But graduates report earning an average of $72,500 five years after graduation.
4. Princeton University. This New Jersey school is the most affordable of the Ivy League schools because of its generous financial aid; more than 75 percent of students graduate debt-free. The school’s reputation also helps after graduation: Graduates report earning an average of $60,500 within five years.
5. California Institute of Technology. Another “techie” school like MIT, Caltech is also very selective and challenging. There are less than 1,000 students, and the net cost of a degree is more than $186,000. But graduates are earning an average of $72,300 within five years.
6. (tie) Harvey Mudd College. Founded in 1955, Harvey Mudd specializes in science and engineering. However, students take a lot of liberal arts classes, and they can take classes at any of the other Claremont (Calif.) Colleges: Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Pomona and Scripps. The cost of a degree is more than $196,000, but graduates are making an average of $76,400 within five years.
6. (tie) Harvard University. Perhaps the most famous of the Ivies, Harvard is also very generous with financial aid. Which is good, since the cost of a degree is almost $188,000. But graduates are making an average of $60,000 five years after graduation.
8. Maine Maritime Academy. The focus here is on engineering and marine science, and students spend a lot of time gaining hands-on experience on ships. It has an excellent ratio of cost of attendance vs. graduate salaries: While the net price of a degree is $107,422, the average graduate salary within five years is $67,600.
9. Amherst College. This is the top-ranked liberal arts college on the Money list. It has a generous financial aid policy, and students at Amherst also can take classes at nearby Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The net price of a degree is a little more than $163,000, and the average salary after five years is $55,700.
University of California-Berkeley. With enrollment above 25,000, this is the largest – and the only public – school on the Money list. A degree costs more than $133,000, and graduates average $58,300 after five years.