Additional photos below.
Additional photos below.

Ten Best U.S. Colleges for Value — Including One in Colorado

Colorado colleges often fail to score great grades on national surveys.

Last year, just two Colorado institutions made the top thirty in an NPR roster of premier U.S. colleges.

And in recent weeks, we noted that a ranking of America's best public colleges featured just one Colorado school in the top fifty.

So it's a pleasant surprise to discover the top-ten finish of a Colorado college in SmartAsset's new analysis of the schools offering the best value — those that most successfully balance expenses with student aid and starting salaries upon graduation.

Continue to see the photo-illustrated list, featuring SmartAsset data; note that the tuition figures are generally calculated to the charges for in-state students. That's followed by the complete methodology. For more information from SmartAsset, including an interactive map and more, click here.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Number 1: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

City: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Average scholarships and grants: $33,585

Average starting salary: $74,900

College tuition: $43,498

Student living costs: $15,522

Student retention rate: 99 percent

College Education Value Index: 100.00

Harvey Mudd College.
Harvey Mudd College.

Number 2: Harvey Mudd College

City: Claremont, California

Average scholarships and grants: $28,001

Average starting salary: $78,200

College tuition: $46,509

Student living costs: $17,351

Student retention rate: 97 percent

College Education Value Index: 94.51

California Institute of Technology.
California Institute of Technology.

Number 3: California Institute of Technology

City: Pasadena, California

Average scholarships and grants: $29,759

Average starting salary: $72,600

College tuition: $41,538

Student living costs: $17,217

Student retention rate: 97 percent

College Education Value Index: 91.03

Georgia Institute of Technology.
Georgia Institute of Technology.

Number 4: Georgia Institute of Technology — Main Campus

City: Atlanta, Georgia

Average scholarships and grants: $8,798

Average starting salary: $62,500

College tuition: $10,650

Student living costs: $12,734

Student retention rate: 96 percent

College Education Value Index: 88.05

Stanford University.
Stanford University.

Number 5: Stanford University

City: Stanford, California

Average scholarships and grants: $38,662

Average starting salary: $65,900

College tuition: $16,485

Student living costs: $17,066

Student retention rate: 94 percent

College Education Value Index: 86.07

Continue to keep counting down the ten best U.S. colleges for value, including one in Colorado.

Colorado School of Mines.
Colorado School of Mines.

Number 6: Colorado School of Mines

City: Golden, Colorado

Average scholarships and grants: $9,138

Average starting salary: $65,500

College tuition: $16,485

Student living costs: $14,118

Student retention rate: 94 percent

College Education Value Index: 85.49

SUNY Maritime College.
SUNY Maritime College.

Number 7: SUNY Maritime College

City: Throggs Neck, New York

Average scholarships and grants: $6,039

Average starting salary: $65,200

College tuition: $7,109

Student living costs: $15,505

Student retention rate: 85 percent

College Education Value Index: 84.94

Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Number 8: Missouri University of Science and Technology

City: Rolla, Missouri

Average scholarships and grants: $7,462

Average starting salary: $62,700

College tuition: $9,510

Student living costs: $12,288

Student retention rate: 86 percent

College Education Value Index: 84.34

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Number 9: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

City: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Average scholarships and grants: $14,671

Average starting salary: $58,000

College tuition: $13,142

Student living costs: $13,098

Student retention rate: 97 percent

College Education Value Index: 83.16

Princeton University.
Princeton University.

Number 10: Princeton University

City: Princeton, New Jersey

Average scholarships and grants: $38,704

Average starting salary: $61,300

College tuition: $40,170

Student living costs: $15,662

Student retention rate: 98 percent

College Education Value Index: 83.12

Methodology

Earning a college degree can increase your skill set, job prospects and net worth. But with rising college costs, where you choose to get that degree from can make a big difference. SmartAsset looked at five factors to determine the best value colleges and universities: tuition, student living costs, scholarship and grant offerings, retention rate and starting salary.

To capture the true cost of attending a school, we included the tuition (using in-state tuition for public schools where applicable), student living costs (including room and board, books, supplies, transportation and other personal expenses) and the average scholarships and grants offered to students of the school.

To capture what students get in return, we looked at student retention rate (the percent of students that re-enrolled at the institution the following year) and the average starting salary.

We gave 25% weighting to starting salary, tuition, and living costs; and 12.5% weighting to scholarships & grants and student retention rate to come up with a ranking of schools in our analysis. With that ranking, we created an index (a sort of grading on a curve) where the number-one school was assigned 100.


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