COLLEGE

The 10 Best Colleges For Your Money In 2016, Ranked By Money Magazine

Based on cost of attendance, graduation rates and how well grads do in the workplace.
Princeton ranks No. 1 this year.
Princeton ranks No. 1 this year.

Choosing a college is one of the most important financial decisions families ever have to face. Not only does it represent a huge up-front expense ― one year at an “affordable” public university can easily set you back $20,000 a year ― but where you go to college can also affect your salary for years to come.

To help families make smart choices, MONEY’s annual college rankings examine dozens of data points to measure the costs and payoffs of thousands of schools.

Colleges are judged on how much families really pay after financial aid, how many students go on to graduate, and how well those graduates fare in the workplace according to salary data collected by PayScale.com.

MONEY’s 2016 Best Colleges list, released today, offers a mix of public and private, large and small, uber-selective and lesser-known gems. All 705 of the colleges on the list (chosen from the roughly 2,000 four-year colleges in the U.S.) provide an above-average value for students’ and parents’ money.

Here’s a peek at some of this year’s highest-ranked colleges. For the full list, check out MONEY’s College Planner.

  • 1. Princeton University
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $61,300<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $20,100<br><br>Average
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $61,300

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $20,100

    Average student debt: $6,810

    Early career earnings: $62,800
  • 2. University of Michigan
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $28,100<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $14,300<br><br>Average
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $28,100

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $14,300

    Average student debt: $22,000

    Early career earnings: $59,000
  • 3. Harvard University
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid:&nbsp;$64,800<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid:&nbsp;$18,900<br><b
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $64,800

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $18,900

    Average student debt: $19,500

    Early career earnings: $54,500
  • 4. Rice University
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $58,600<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $24,300<br><br>Average
    Witold Skrypczak via Getty Images
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $58,600

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $24,300

    Average student debt: $8,413

    Early career earnings: $63,700
  • 5. University of California, Berkeley (Tie)
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $35,700<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $25,300<br><br>Average
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $35,700

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $25,300

    Average student debt: $14,667

    Early career earnings: $60,300
  • 5. Brigham Young University, Provo (Tie)
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $18,500<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $14,700<br><br>Average
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $18,500

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $14,700

    Average student debt: $11,000

    Early career earnings: $51,800
  • 7. Amherst College
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $66,600<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with aid: $18,000<br><br>Average student
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $66,600

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with aid: $18,000

    Average student debt: $11,186

    Early career earnings: $53,400
  • 8. Cooper Union
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $62,800<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $22,200<br><br>Average
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $62,800

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $22,200

    Average student debt: $17,570

    Early career earnings: $63,200
  • 9. University of Virginia
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $28,100<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $12,000<br><br>Average
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $28,100

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $12,000

    Average student debt: $19,500

    Early career earnings: $55,400
  • 10. Stanford University
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $65,300<br><br>Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $22,000<br><br>Average
    Estimated price for 2016-17 without aid: $65,300

    Estimated price for 2016-17 with average aid: $22,000

    Average student debt: $12,224

    Early career earnings: $68,800

For the full list, check out MONEY’s College Planner.

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