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Overall Score: 98.46

Princeton University

Everybody knows Princeton University is elite, but did you know it's also affordable for those who get in? The school gives out such large grants to the six in 10 families who qualify (households earning less than $250,000 generally get some aid; those making less than $65,000 get a free ride) that more than 80% of students graduate without any debt. And that's on top of the fact that, while at the university, undergrads have access to some of the country's best-known intellectual figures, such as Angus Deaton, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2015, and novelist-turned-professor Joyce Carol Oates. Once students leave school, their Princeton diplomas clearly help them in the job market: Recent graduates have median salaries of $96,000 per year, according to the College Scorecard, a premium over comparable schools. These outcomes, alongside the university's high graduation rate, contribute to Princeton's strong performance year after year in Money's list of best colleges. Princeton's park-like campus with ivy-covered Gothic-style buildings is widely considered one of the country's most beautiful. While there's little Greek life, most juniors and seniors belong to exclusive "eating clubs," some of which only admit students who pass through a secretive selection process. The Tigers compete in NCAA Division I athletics. Sports events tend to draw small crowds, but if the football team defeats both Yale and Harvard, it holds a ceremonial bonfire on Cannon Green.


Est. full price 2022-2023
% of students who get any grants
Est. price for students who receive aid
Average price for low-income students


Acceptance rate
Median SAT/ACT score
SAT/ACT required?
Undergraduate enrollment

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
% of need met
% of students who get merit grants
Average merit grant

Student Success

Graduation rate
Average time to a degree
4.1 years
Median student debt
Early career earnings
% earning more than a high school grad

Notes: Students who get merit grants are full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants. Graduation rate measures degree completion within six years for both transfer students and first-time students. Early career earnings are the median earnings for both graduates and non-completers, 10 years after they first enrolled.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson’s, Money/Witlytic calculations.

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