This list of the 5 top value colleges in the US can get very confusing, mainly because experts can’t seem to agree on what defines “top value”. In general, though, the term “top value” considers low student debt, the career success of alumni, graduation rates, and excellent student satisfaction as the most important factors.
With these “standards” in mind, we have created our own list of the best top value educational institutions in America:
1. Williams College. This is without a doubt one of the most highly regarded liberal arts colleges in the entire country. Ever since its founding in 1793, Williams College has produced well-known alumni including President James Garfield. More recent prominent former students include the composer Stephen Sondheim, billionaire investor Herb Allen Jr., and billionaire Steve Case who cofounded AOL.
At first glance, it may seem that it’s expensive to go to Williams College. But its financial aid department is fully committed to offering financial assistance to students who deserve it. Only 43% of the students take out student loans to cover their expenses, and even then the median debt among these students is just over $8,000 which is much less than the $28,000 student loan debt average in the country.
2. West Point. It’s hard to find a list of top value schools without West Point in it. After all, getting admitted is hardly a walk in the park but when you do, then you won’t pay anything. The discipline may be a bit harsh compared to most colleges/universities but it’s necessary because all the cadets enter active military service upon graduation.
The US Military Academy has produced two US Presidents (Grant and Eisenhower), more than 20 astronauts at NASA, and at least 70 recipients of the Medal of Honor. After military service, they can enter the job market with a good degree, excellent training and military experience.
3. Amherst College. It has only 1,817 students, yet this liberal arts college is one of the top value schools in the entire country. The graduates enjoy increased earning potential, and they have an excellent record in both academia and other professional careers.
The total annual cost for attendance is approximately $61,544, but the school provides an average financial aid of about $41,000 per student per year. Of those who took out loans, the average student debt is just $12,700.
4. Swarthmore College. Among its 1,552 students, a little over half get some form of financial aid based on their specific needs. And 70% of the students share more than $38 million in work study programs and scholarships to help defray the cost of tuition, room, and board. The average student loan debt is just $16,000 per year, while the earning potential of graduates is quite high.
5. Stanford University. No one doubts the value of a Stanford education, especially since it has produced a steady crop of famous alumni who have exceled in various fields and industries. The total annual cost of education at Stanford is $60,749 but 70% of its students have financial aid. Graduates enjoy markedly excellent career tracks after graduation.
Keep in mind that this is a list of top value colleges and universities in the US. The monetary investment students spend for these schools pales in comparison to the return they get in terms of education, satisfaction, and earning potential.