A recent study looked at factors like tuition, living costs, and scholarships to round up the schools that offer the best return on students' investment. Here are the colleges and universities that made the grade.

By Maressa Brown
May 20, 2019
Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

May 20, 2019

No matter what phase of the parenting game you're in, chances are you'll face certain questions and challenges that are specifically related to finances. After all, the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that the cost of raising a child through age 17 for a middle-income family is $233,610. That's excluding the cost of college, which everyone knows is gasp-worthy. Understandably, most parents and teens are concerned with finding a school that offers the best return on their investment.

In a recent study, SmartAsset aimed to round up colleges and universities that do exactly that. They looked at a variety of factors like tuition, living costs, scholarship and grant offerings, retention rate, and starting salary. Here, the top 10 schools that offer students the best value.  

10. Colorado School of Mines

Located in Golden, Colorado, Mines is "devoted to engineering and applied science, with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth's natural resources." They offer $6,693 in scholarships and grants, while tuition costs $17,842 and living expenses are approximately $14,842. Graduates' starting salaries are $74,100 on average.

9. Carnegie Mellon University

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania research university is known for its interdisciplinary programs in the arts, business, computing, engineering, humanities, policy and science. They give out an average $38,163 in scholarships and grants. That said, tuition costs $52,310, and living expenses are $15,670. But CMU grads make, on average, $73,600 as a starting salary. 

8. SUNY Maritime College

The maritime college located in the Bronx, New York gives out $7,488 in scholarships and grants on average, costs $7,834 for tuition, and comes with a living expense price tag of roughly $17,048. Grads can expect to make approximately $73,300 after receiving their degree.

7. Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus

The public research university and institute of technology in Atlanta, Georgia, referred to as Georgia Tech, comes in #7 thanks to $11,383 in scholarships and grants, college tuition of $12,212, and student living costs of $15,208 on average. Starting salary for grads: $70,800.

6. Harvard University

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ivy League school awards $49,870 in scholarships and grants on average and costs $47,074 a year for tuition and $19,826 for living expenses. But Harvard alumni can expect to make $72,600 out the gate. 

5. Princeton University

The Ivy League institution in Princeton, New Jersey awards $48,088 in scholarships and grants, and their tuition costs $45,320. Student living costs come in at $18,370. That said, graduating Tigers can expect to make $72,700 as a starting salary. 

4. Harvey Mudd College

The Claremont, California-based science and engineering college awards $33,782 in average scholarships and grants, while college tuition costs $52,666. Student living costs come in at $19,251. But grads can expect to make $85,600 as a starting salary.

3. Stanford University

Located in Stanford, California and known for its proximity to Silicon Valley, as well as ranking as one of the world's top universities, Stanford University awards $50,134 in average scholarships and grants and costs $47,940 for tuition. The average student living costs are $18,756, while the average starting salary is $76,500.   

2. California Institute of Technology 

CalTech, located in Pasadena, California, awards $41,408 in average scholarships and grants. The cost of tuition at the private doctorate-granting research university is $47,577 and living expenses run roughly $19,197. That said, CalTech grads can expect to make approximately $83,400 out the gate.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT, which is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, annually offers $43,248 in scholarships and grants, costs $48,452 a year, and students spend roughly $17,026 on living expenses. That said, the average starting salary for an MIT grad is, on average, $83,600. These numbers landed the private research university a rating of 100 on SmartAsset's College Education Value Index, as well as the #1 spot on the list.


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