Students seeking an intimate, small-college experience may want to steer clear of CSULB, or "The Beach." One of the largest schools in California, it has an enrollment of about 33,000 undergrads. Still, Money's analysis finds its six-year graduation rate (81%) is well above the average of all the schools we rated this year, so students who do enroll clearly find it a good fit.

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They’re also getting one of the best bargains in higher education: All told, the estimated net price of a CSULB degree, before subtracting state and federal aid, is about $116,000, which is lower than the median net price of all the schools on our list. (Pretty impressive for a college located in one of the most expensive parts of the world.)

The campus environment is quintessentially California, with scenic, landscaped grounds just three miles from the beach. Students can spend plenty of time keeping in shape, courtesy of the school's 126,500-square-foot fitness center. Another fun fact: The university recently asked students to vote for a new mascot, having "retired" Prospector Pete in 2018. They chose a gender non-conforming shark named "Elbee," who made their formal debut in 2020.