California's oldest public institution of higher education, SJSU is located in downtown San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley — an advantage for students interested in exploring professional opportunities or internships at one of the many tech companies and startups in the area. Apple, Intuit, Salesforce, PayPal and IBM are among the companies that have hired SJSU students.

The average annual cost is relatively inexpensive, around $14,000, and about 35% of the undergraduate population receives income-based Pell Grants. There are more than 450 student organizations on campus, including more than 40 fraternities and sororities, multiple cultural and religious groups, and about 40 club sports. One of the newest is the dragon boat racing team, where participants paddle in a large, canoe-like boat. Several campus initiatives and centers aim to ensure students from all backgrounds can find a community on campus. The MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, for example, hosts conferences and events supporting social justice issues for marginalized groups.

At 71%, its graduation rate is 9% higher than predicted based on its student demographics, according to Money’s analysis. Like much of the California State University system, SJSU is regularly recognized for its accessibility, and it scores well on multiple measures of economic and social mobility.