The University of Utah, or simply "the U," stands out for its strong science and computer science programs.

Utah’s oldest higher education institution provides its about 25,000 undergrads with a solid, research-based education that costs about $87,000 — well below the national average, according to Money’s calculations. It’s also active in the arts, with well-respected programs in actor training, creative writing and ballet, among others.

Overall, Utes don't put a premium on having a stereotypical college experience. Many students are commuters who return home on the weekends. Fraternities and sororities have only a small presence, and the administration is strict about maintaining its dry campus.

Still, Salt Lake City, where the campus is located, is fast-becoming one of the hippest cities in the U.S.; museums, art galleries and fancy restaurants abound. Outdoor sports like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking are also popular. The university’s strong athletics programs compete in the Pac-12 Conference, and provide top-notch facilities for participating athletes — plus plenty of spectator opportunities for everyone else.