Almost no matter where you go (with some exceptions), a college education is pricey. Especially when you’re talking about top-ranked private schools, a year’s tuition will easily cost you more than $40,000. But paying more for school won’t necessarily guarantee you post-grad success. So how do you figure out what school will provide the most valuable education at the lowest cost?
As Thrillist spotted, WalletHub recently compared nearly 1000 higher-education institutions in the U.S. to determine which undergraduate schools give you the most bang for your buck. Using metrics like selectivity, educational outcomes, financing opportunities and average loan debt, campus safety, graduation rates, and post-grad salaries, WalletHub pinpointed the institutions that seem to balance their hefty tuition prices with experiences and opportunities that are worth the cost.
That’s not to say any of the institutions on the list are cheap. All the schools that made the top 10 still cost more than $45,000 per year. But, according to WalletHub’s methodology, they provide a higher-quality education and greater return on your investment than other, cheaper schools. Below are the 10 schools that provide the best bang for your buck according to this analysis, with their 2018-2019 tuition rates.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($51,520 per year)
2. Princeton University ($49,450 per year)
3. Yale University ($53,430 per year)
4. Harvard University ($46,340 per year)
5. California Institute of Technology ($50,487 per year)
6. Duke University ($55,960 per year)
7. University of Pennsylvania ($49,220 per year)
8. Columbia University ($56,608 per year)
9. Rice University ($46,600 per year)
10. Stanford University ($50,703 per year)
Of course, not every student pays full tuition. At MIT, for instance, 30 percent of students pay nothing in tuition thanks to financial aid, while Stanford offers a free ride to students whose parents make less than $125,000 a year. But if you don't receive a scholarship, the numbers above don't even encompass the price of college. That's just tuition, which doesn't include room and board, health fees, books, or the myriad other costs associated with getting an education. But even paying full tuition, some of those schools might be worth it. It will likely be easier to pay off those loans you took out for schools like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford—which are all in the top five for schools with the highest post-grad salaries—compared to other universities.
Explore the data in the map below, or head to WalletHub to take a deeper look.