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Colleges That Help Grads Earn Top Salaries: SmartMoney List

08/23/2011 08:44 am ET | Updated Oct 24, 2011

It's a ranking that becomes more and more popular as years pass: the list of colleges that purport to make their grads the most money. There are the party schools that pay off; the schools with the best mid-career salaries; the colleges with the top return on investment.

But which colleges are really, truly worth it for their alumni? Colleges where loan debt doesn't exceed earning potential -- colleges that promise a healthy median mid-career pay.

SmartMoney worked with salary data site PayScale to calculate just such a list, and the results may surprise you. There are no Ivies on their final list; no Harvey Mudds or Cal Techs. SmartMoney and PayScale considered a melange of factors in their formula, including tuition and fees today and a decade ago, recent graduate median pay and mid-career graduate median pay to come up with a "payback ratio" for each school examined. The higher the ratio, the better.

See for yourself the 12 schools with the top payback ratios below -- and check out SmartMoney for the full list, including a nifty interactive table of results.

Interested in how your major will pay off? See the best and worst paying majors.

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