The Best Value Colleges ranking is based on net price, alumni earnings, graduation rates, and student debt using data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni. Learn where our data comes from.
|Average Return on Investment by 30||Average return on investment for graduates, considering the differential between estimated earnings at age 30 and the cost of college.||U.S. Dept. of Education, U.S. Census||12.5%|
|Economic Mobility Index||Measure of economic status change for low-income students, inspired by Third Way.||U.S. Dept. of Education, U.S. Census||12.5%|
|Average Net Price||Average cost after financial aid for students receiving grant or scholarship aid, as reported by the college.||U.S. Dept. of Education||7.5%|
|Graduation Rate (6-year)||Percent of undergraduate students who graduate within six years.||U.S. Dept. of Education||7.5%|
|Loan Default Rate||Loan default rate of students who graduated within the past three years and have not deferred.||U.S. Dept. of Education||7.5%|
|Median Earnings 1 Year After Graduation||Median earnings of graduates working and not enrolled 1 year after graduation||U.S. Dept. of Education||7.5%|
|Median Earnings 6 Years After Graduation||Median earnings ten years after enrollment.||U.S. Dept. of Education||7.5%|
|Average Loan Amount (per year)||Average value of student loans taken on by full-time undergraduate students.||U.S. Dept. of Education||5.0%|
|First Year Increase in Earnings||Change in earnings between first and second year of employment for graduates working and not enrolled||U.S. Dept. of Education, U.S. Census||5.0%|
|Full-Time Retention Rate||Percent of full-time, first-time students enrolled the prior year that re-enroll the next year.||U.S. Dept. of Education||5.0%|
|Percent Earning Over 150% of the Poverty Line, 2 Years after Graduation||Percent of graduates working and not enrolled earning over 150% of the poverty line 2 years after graduation.||U.S. Dept. of Education||5.0%|
|Percent Employed 2 Years after Graduation||Percent of students who report working and not attending school 2 years after graduation.||U.S. Dept. of Education||5.0%|
|Percent Employed 6 Years After Graduation||Percent of students who report working and not attending school ten years after enrollment.||U.S. Dept. of Education||5.0%|
|Student Surveys on Value||Niche survey responses scored on a 1-5 scale regarding the value and quality of postgraduate preparation at each school.||Self-reported by Niche users||5.0%|
|Student-Faculty Ratio||Total full-time undergraduate students per full-time undergraduate faculty.||U.S. Dept. of Education||2.5%|
The same methodology is used to produce the Niche Value Grade for each ranked school as well as additional 4-year colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and other 2-year programs. Statistics obtained from the U.S. Department of Education represent the most recent data available, as self-reported by the colleges. Niche also collects data directly from schools via our school data update form. If you work for a school and would like to update your data, please claim your school.
For more details about how we calculate our rankings, click here.