Coronavirus and Your Money: Special Coverage
By Kim Clark
August 30, 2016
Stanford University earned high marks all around.
Leah Fasten

As tuition has risen, parents and students have increasingly focused on finding affordable colleges that deliver real value for the money.

That’s why MONEY, for example, ranks the best value colleges in the U.S., and offers additional financially oriented rankings such as the best private colleges for merit aid.

Washington Monthly and Princeton Review have also just announced their picks for the “Best Bang for the Buck” and “Great Financial Aid” colleges, respectively.

One heartening finding: Although each of the organizations uses different data and methodologies, some colleges are highly ranked on all three.

MONEY’s No. 1 best value college for 2016, Princeton University, was ranked second for financial aid by Princeton Review and 12th for “Best Bang for the Buck” in the Northeast by Washington Monthly.

Harvard, No. 3 on MONEY’s list, was No. 1 on Washington Monthly‘s.

Stanford made it to the top 10 of both MONEY’s best value and Princeton Review’s financial aid list, and was ranked seventh in the West for “Bang for the Buck” by Washington Monthly.

Amherst was highly ranked by both MONEY and Washington Monthly.

Princeton Review bases the bulk of its ranking on a proprietary survey of 143,000 undergraduates.

Washington Monthly bases its “Best Bang for the Buck” rankings on a variety of indicators, including the school’s enrollment of low-income and first-generation students, the net price charged students from families earning less than $75,000 a year, the school’s performance on indicators such as student loan repayment and alumni earnings, after accounting for the demographics of the student body.

MONEY bases our best-value analysis on a combination of educational quality, affordability, and career outcomes measures, including the college’s staffing, graduation rates, net price and student debt, student loan repayment rates, and earnings of alumni. We also factor in how well the school’s alumni do after accounting for the academic and socioeconomic background of the student body.

Top 10s at a glance

Here is a chart comparing the top colleges on each of the lists.

(Since Washington Monthly divides its list by region, we provide the top two schools for each of its five U.S. regions.)

MONEY Best Value Colleges Princeton Review “Great Financial Aid” Washington Monthly “Best Bang For Buck” for each region
1. Princeton University 1. Vassar College 1. Harvard University
2. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 2. Princeton University 2. Amherst College
3. Harvard University 3. Bowdoin College 1. College of the Ozarks
4. Rice University 4. Vanderbilt University 2. University of Michigan–Dearborn
5. Brigham Young University-Provo 5. Pomona College 1. University of Mount Olive
6. University of California-Berkeley 6. Claremont McKenna College 2. Georgetown University
7. Amherst College 7. Colgate University 1. Berea College
8. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art 8. St. Olaf College 2. William Carey University
9. University of Virginia 9. Pitzer College 1. CA State University–Bakersfield
10. Stanford University 10. Stanford University 2. Harvey Mudd College

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