In a day and age where a college degree no longer equals a steady job, deciding whether to pursue higher education can be tricky. The average student attending a four-year, in-state public college pays about $19,500 in tuition each year. Is that an investment you should make?
Forbes has made answering that question a little bit easier with its Best Value Colleges 2016 rankings, published online Tuesday. Looking at factors such as tuition, drop-out risk and post-graduation salary, the business magazine came up with a list of institutions "that provide students with the most value for the dollar."
The top school was the University of California, Berkeley, where yearly attendance costs about $57,234, followed by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where annual costs total $17,818. No. 3 was the University of Florida in Gainesville, with a price tag of $42,831.
As with all rankings, Forbes' list should be taken with a grain of metaphorical salt. The magazine's top schools don't appear to match up with the high-ranking institutions on the Princeton Review's "Colleges That Pay You Back List." That publication found the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California; Princeton University in New Jersey; and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City to be the best schools for return on investment.
Value might not be the top priority for high school seniors weighing their options, though. A 2014 poll of freshman found students ranked colleges' academic reputations as their No. 1 consideration, followed by the jobs alumni get and the financial assistance they could receive, according U.S. News and World Report.
No matter what's most important to you, take a look at the top 10 Forbes rankings below. Then see the full list here.
America's Best Value Colleges 2016:
1. University of California, Berkeley
2. Brigham Young University
3. University of Florida
4. University of California, Los Angeles
5. University of California, San Diego
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
7. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
8. Georgia Institute of Technology
9. Harvard University
10. University of California, Irvine