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Best Colleges in America

Georgetown University

Georgetown is another expensive one, costing $56,815 per year, but graduates usually leave with average loans of $25,432 – lots of scholarship opportunities! The graduation rate of Georgetown is 94.9%, and the starting salary is $50,000. That makes it easier to pay off those student loans. Georgetown has an acceptance rate around the same as others in the area at 16.8%. General biology is Georgetown’s best-ranked major.

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Brown University

Brown’s acceptance rate is so low that it’s single digits – 9.3%. Still, it has a remarkable 96.1% graduation rate. The annual price is average at $52,469, with average student loans totaling $31,179. Good thing the average starting salary is $48,000. Brown has the best ranked applied mathematics major.

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Dartmouth College

Dartmouth has always been at the top, but it’s good to know what you’re getting into. The average annual price is $48,440, but students leave with a mere $24,956 in student loans. The graduation rate for Dartmouth is 95.2%. The only thing about Dartmouth is the starting salary is slightly lower than competitors at $48,000. Dartmouth is incredibly hard to get into, however. It has a mere 10% acceptance rate. Finally, the best-ranked major is political science and government.

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Yale University

Despite being so prestigious, Yale doesn’t drown students in debt. The annual price is $45,909, but the total student loans average out to be $19,848. The average starting salary is lower than we thought, $48,000, but it isn’t too bad. The graduation rate of Yale is 96.2%, and the best-ranked major is history – even more surprises! As for Yale’s acceptance rate, it sits at a low 6.3%.

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Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University has had a great reputation for a long time, so it isn’t a surprise that it’s landed on this list. Let’s look at the specifics. The annual net price is $51,383, with total student loans averaging around $28,144. The graduation rate sits at 93.1%, and the average starting salary is $49,000. The only bad news about this place is that the acceptance rate is 12.8%, making it hard to get in. Johns Hopkins is popular for medical majors, but the best-ranked major is mathematics.

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Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis is a wonderful place to go to college, especially Washington University. The graduation cost is 94.8%, with an annual cost of $55,180. There are a lot of scholarship opportunities, which makes it easy for students to go without racking up a lot of student loans. The average student loan total is $24,352. On top of that, the average starting salary is $50,000. Washington University has a 16.5% acceptance rate. Washington University has a unique best ranked major: anthropology.

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University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame has a pretty high graduation rate at 95.7%, with 90% graduating on time. The annual price for Notre Dame is $46,960, but students only have average total student loans of $26,400. This is probably thanks to the high starting salary of $50,000. The acceptance rate is 18.7%, which is slightly higher than others on the list. Notre Dame’s best-ranked major is accounting.

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Vanderbilt University

Considering Vanderbilt’s reputation, we’d thought it would cost more. That being said, the annual price is only $41,576. Average student loans total $32,204, which isn’t bad considering the average starting salary is $44,000. The graduation rate is 92.9%, but the acceptance rate is pretty low, at 10.7%. Vanderbilt University’s best-ranked major is general psychology.  

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Amherst College

Amherst College is actually a fantastic price considering its location. The annual cost is $42,841, with students leaving with total loans of $21,840. The average starting salary is $46,000. The graduation rate is pretty good since 94.1% finish. The hard part? Getting in. Amherst has a 13.7% acceptance rate. Like many others on the list, Amherst’s best-ranked major is mathematics.

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Williams College

Williams is a little cheaper than others on the list. The annual price is $46,362, and students usually leave with $17,760 in loans. The graduation rate is also a little higher at 95.3%, and those that do graduate can look forward to a $47,000 average starting salary. Williams College only accepts 17.6% of applicants, however. Williams College’s best-ranked major is mathematics.

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Harvard University

Harvard is one of the top universities in the nation, but it isn’t easy to get into. It has a 5.4% acceptance rate, but those that do get accepted almost always graduate (96.8% graduation rate). It’s not cheap, but that’s to be expected in Massachusetts. The annual net price is $50,262, and students usually leave with $29,488 in student loans. The average starting salary is $48,000, so it’s easy to pay that off. Harvard’s best-ranked major is history.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the best college in the nation, but there are some surprises with this university. First, it isn’t super expensive. The annual net price is $39,263, but students still leave with $30,120 in student loans on average. Second, the graduation rate is 91.3%, which isn’t low, but we expected higher. Finally, the acceptance rate is 7.9%. The best ranked major is general biology. Unsurprisingly, it has the highest average starting salary of $67,000.

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Princeton University

Princeton doesn’t accept a lot of applicants. The acceptance rate is only 6.5%. The good news is that it doesn’t cost a lot! It has an annual net price of $38,650, and students usually only leave with loans totaling around $17,804 – that’s one of the lowest on the list. The graduation rate is 96.8%, with an average starting salary of $53,000. Political science and government are Princeton’s best-ranked majors.

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University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Students of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor can look forward to cheap tuition ($21,001 annually), but they also tend to have around $27,860 in student loans following graduation. That’s not too bad, however, considering the average starting salary is $46,000. The graduation rate sits at 91%. If this university sounds great to you, you may be happy to learn it has a 28.6% acceptance rate. Health and physical education are Ann Arbor’s best-ranked majors.  

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Duke University

Duke University’s annual net price sits at $48,258, and the student loan total is $24,456. It’s super easy to pay off those loans thanks to the average $48,000 starting salary. The graduation rate sits at 94.8%, but the acceptance rate (10.8%) means it isn’t easy to into. Duke’s best-ranked major is economics.

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University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has the best price of any college on the list. It costs $17,164 annually, and the average student loans total $25,808. On top of that, the starting salary isn’t too terrible at $39,000. The graduation rate is 90.3%, while the acceptance rate is 26.9%. Chapel Hill’s best-ranked major is chemistry.

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Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a rollercoaster of good and bad. First, the bad. The graduation rate is only 81.5%, and average student loans total $59,512. Now, for the good. The annual net price is pretty low – $22,597. The average starting salary is also higher than some others on the list at $55,000. Sounding like the perfect place? The acceptance rate is 25.8%, so getting in is slightly easier. Georgia Tech’s best-ranked major is mechanical engineering.

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University of Chicago

The University of Chicago isn’t cheap, but it may be worth it. The annual net price is $52,213, and students leave with a whopping total of $51,524 on average. The average starting salary, unfortunately, doesn’t reflect this high cost at $44,000. The good part is that the graduation rate is 92.9%, but getting in is hard. The acceptance rate is 7.9%, and the best ranked major is economics.

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Northwestern University

Northwestern University is another Illinois option that’s fairly priced. It costs $52,475 annually, and students leave with a lower student loan total of $28,096. The best part about graduating from here is that the starting salary is $47,000. While the graduation rate is 93.3%, the acceptance rate is only 10.7%. Northwestern University’s best-ranked major is sociology.

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Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College has a lot going for it. The annual net price is just under $44,000, and it has a graduation rate of 94.1%. The only problem is that the average total student loans are a little high at $35,372, with an acceptance rate of 12.8%. The average starting salary is $44,000, which is fine, but slightly lower compared to competitors. Swarthmore College’s best-ranked major is mathematics.

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Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University has a slightly lower graduation rate than others on the list – 88% – but it’s certainly nothing to scoff at. The cost of the university is also slightly higher than the others at $53,850 annually, but students usually only have $24,620 in student loans. All this cost doesn’t come without reward; the average starting salary is $54,000. Carnegie Mellon University is easier to get into than other top colleges, with a 21.7% acceptance rate. Carnegie Mellon’s best-ranked major is mathematics.

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University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania has a beautiful campus, which is why it may attract students. The annual net price costs $51,256, and average total loans amount to $30,932. That doesn’t seem like much considering the average starting salary is $54,000. University of Pennsylvania also has a high graduation rate at 95.6%, but the acceptance rate is in the single digits (9.4%). The best-ranked major? Business administration and management.

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Cornell University

Cornell is one of the best universities in the country, and the stats show that. It costs a lot to go there (annual price of $51,784), but students usually only rack up $32,428 in loans. On top of that, the graduation rate is 93.2%, and students usually make around $53,000 starting salary. Cornell University’s acceptance rate is on par with other universities on this list at 14.1%. Cornell’s best-ranked major is liberal arts general studies.

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Columbia University

Columbia University has a reputation for a couple of things. First, it’s hard to get into, and the statistics agree. The acceptance rate is 6.8%. The second is that it’s expensive. The cost is $45,708 annually, which is actually reasonably priced. Students leave with around $42,960 in student loans, and 94.8% graduate. The place where Columbia really shines is the average starting salary, $53,000. Fine and studio arts is Columbia’s best-ranked major.

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Rice University

Texas is a big place with a lot of top-notch universities, but Rice won out as one of the best. The annual net price is just over $43,000, but the average total student loans is a little higher than normal at $33,456. The graduation rate is 91.5%, with an average starting salary is $47,000. Finally, the acceptance rate is 15.3%. Rice University has a heavy-hitting best-ranked major: biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology. 

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Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College has the lowest graduation rate on the list, but one of the highest starting salaries. The graduation rate sits at 90.1%, with an average starting salary of $60,000. It’s on par with other top colleges as far as cost ($51,595 annually), and average total student loans hover at $28,944. The hard part is getting in since the acceptance rate is 13%. Looking for a good physics program? That’s Harvey Mudd’s best-ranked major.  

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California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology has a higher annual cost ($47,398) compared to other California universities on this list, but you get what you pay for. The graduation rate is 91.5%, and the average starting salary is whopping $60,000. The average student loan total is also pretty low at $23,952. The only downside is the acceptance rate, which is 8.1%. The best-ranked major at this university is chemistry.

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Stanford University

Stanford is pretty prestigious, so you’d expect it to come with a price to match. The annual net price is only $42,428, but students have higher student loans at $32,620. That’s not too difficult to pay off, however, considering the average starting salary is $54,000. The graduation rate is 94.6%, and the best-ranked major is general psychology. The bad news is that Stanford has a 4.8% acceptance rate, the lowest on the list.

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University of California – Berkeley

Considering Berkeley is in California, we expected it to cost a little more. The annual net price is only $26,856, but students still leave with $24,948 in student loans. The graduation rate is also slightly lower than others at 90.7%, but the starting salary is on par with other top universities ($49,000). Finally, the acceptance rate is 16.9%. Business administration and management is Berkeley’s best-ranked major.

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University of California – Los Angeles

Being part of the University of California, the Los Angeles campus is also very well priced at $23,180 annually. Average total student loans total to $23,648, which is lower than Berkeley, but higher than we’d think considering the cost of tuition. The graduation rate is higher than Berkeley at 91%, with an average starting salary of $46,000. More good news? The acceptance rate is 18%. The Los Angeles campus’s best-ranked major is history.

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