Here Are The Top 10 US Colleges That Aren't A Huge Waste Of Money


MONEY, a website that provides in-depth ranking system for colleges, has just released its annual ranking of the best American colleges for the money.

As MONEY puts it, the ranking system is based on a "value ranking that evaluates colleges on educational quality, affordability and career success.”

The site specifically takes a look at the ratio of how much you pay for a school to how much you make after graduating.

Here are the top 10 schools for your money in the United States:

1. Princeton University 2. University of Michigan- Ann Arbor 3. Harvard University 4. Rice University 5. Brigham Young University (tie) 5. University of California, Berkeley (tie) 7. Amherst College 8. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art 9. University of Virginia – Main Campus 10. Stanford University

You can check out where your extremely expensive school that has made you no money ranks on the full list here. Mine got 65th place.

Here are three interesting findings from this best value report, according to MONEY:

1. Amherst College, which clocks in at No. 7 here, is the first liberal arts college to ever make it to the top 10 of this list. That's because, as you know, liberal arts colleges are for people who love reading and hate money. (Before all you guys throw copies of Beowulf at me, I went to a liberal arts college, and now money is allergic to me.)

2. Out of the top 20 schools for your money, 11 were public colleges. Yeah, over 50 percent of the top colleges, money-wise, are public colleges. So, something is working.

3. California is the state with the most schools in the top 20, with 7, six of which are public.

In gathering data for this study, MONEY teamed up with Barnes & Noble College to survey hundreds of students all over the country. Some of the statistics they dredged up are fascinating.


There was one finding I found particularly telling regarding the collegiate experience of the average student. Please refer to the three statistics below.

More than a quarter of students, 27 percent, say their parents didn't make any financial sacrifices. Only 9 percent of parents say they haven't sacrificed.

More than half of parents, 59 percent, say they cut back on major purchases, while only 33 percent of students say their parents cut back in that area.

Also, more than half of parents, 54 percent, say they cut back on vacations, while only 28 percent of students think their parents cut back.

Sure, parents often hide the fact they're sacrificing to put their kids through college, but these statistics still make me laugh.

Sacrifice? Yeah right, bro. My mom won't even buy me a PlayStation 4.

It is pretty inarguable students have a skewed understanding of both how expensive it actually is to go to college as well as how much their parents sacrifice to make it a reality. And so often, as we see with this year's MONEY rankings, going to an expensive college does not guarantee a good future. In fact, cheaper schools often can prepare you far better.

In a particularly ominous finding for anyone concerned about Americans' retirement readiness: 41 percent of parents say they cut back on retirement savings to pay for college, but only 17 percent of students seemed to notice.

There were some other interesting findings, such as this one, which found students care a lot more about a school's male-female ratio with 22 percent considering it important compared to only 9 percent of parents.

I'd like to tell the 9 percent of parents something here. I assume you are all dads holding a beer in the tub yelling, “MY UGLY SON NEEDS AS MANY OPTIONS AS POSSIBLE!”

Lastly, there was this finding, which I found heartening: 69 percent of parents said "preparing for a high-paying career" was a very valuable benefit of a college education, and 93 percent of parents said "preparing for a fulfilling career" was really valuable.

You know what I learned in college, Mom? The number 69 is always funny from now until the end of time. And, I have a fulfilling career where I get to tell people that.

MONEY Editor Diane Harris summarized the findings from the surveys, saying,

Families care most that schools help students develop the critical-thinking skills needed to succeed in a complex world and prep graduates for fulfilling careers, not simply jobs with a high salary... affordability can go hand in hand with a top-notch education and career prep -- if you know where and how to look.

Citations: What Makes a College a Great Value? (MONEY), MONEY's Best Colleges (MONEY), No Matter Who's Paying the Bill, College Is More Expensive Than You Think (MONEY)