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 34,000 undergrads. Yet Money's analysis finds its six-year graduation rate (81%) is well above the average of all schools we rated this year, so it's clear that many CSULB students find it a good fit.

They’re also getting one of the best bargains in higher education: All told, the estimated net price of a CSULB degree is about $112,000, which is lower than the median net price of all the schools Money rated this year (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," which made their formal debut in 2020.