A perennial top performer in Money’s rankings, Michigan shines in each of the three areas our team evaluates. Affordability? According to our calculations, the estimated net price of a degree from Michigan is about $103,600 before student and federal aid — less than roughly 600 other schools on our list. Quality? At 93%, the university has one of the highest graduation rates of all the schools we evaluated. (It’s also one of only four public universities on our list with a graduation rate above 90%.) Student outcomes? Salaries for students are well above average.

Michigan shines in other ways, too. Students are engaged with a wide variety of academic and extracurricular projects. Just recently, for instance, a team of undergraduates from U-M won a U.S. Department of Energy competition for their proposal for a pipeline that would divert carbon dioxide away from industrial sources in major cities. The university’s Division I athletics are first-rate, and the Wolverines have notched more than 50 national championships across 12 different sports. During home football games in the fall, hordes of student fans pack into “The Big House” to cheer their team on.

Even U-M’s location is stellar. Ann Arbor is a quintessential college town, offering an impressive number of music venues, restaurants, museums and theaters. The result of all that excellence is a loud, proud community that, among other accolades, can claim an alumni association chapter on the moon. (The crew of Apollo 15, all U-M grads, established a club charter there in 1971.)