Settled in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, California State University, San Bernardino offers terrific scenery in addition to solid academics. The school, one of the 23 campuses in the Cal State system, has glassblowing facilities, a crime analysis lab and an electronic music studio, among other amenities. Overall, the school offers more than 70 academic programs spread over five colleges.

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CSUSB has developed a variety of focused student support programs, including its Veterans Success Center and Coyote First STEP (Student Transition Enrichment Program), a free, fully residential summer program for incoming students aimed at helping them improve their math skills before the semester starts. Of the roughly 17,000 undergrads at CSUSB, about 7 in 10 are Hispanic, and it's been designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education.

It has a graduation rate of about 70%, which Money finds is more than 24% higher than expected for institutions with similar student populations. Most students commute to the school, but there are three student housing "villages" on campus and plenty of opportunities to get involved. CSUSB boasts more than 140 student-run organizations — from the Ceramics Association to the Chess Club — as well as Greek life.