Top 20 'best value' colleges revealed in Forbes' annual list

When weighing prospective colleges, there's more to consider than just the cost of tuition.

In order to narrow down students' lists of potential schools, Forbes analyzed a total of 645 four-year public and private universities across the U.S. to determine which schools offer the best bang for your buck. To accomplish this, the magazine specifically looked at six key factors: net price, net debt, alumni earnings, timely graduation, quality and access for low-income students.

College debt has been a hot topic this year, as 2020 presidential hopefuls tout their plans for eliminating student debt. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' "College for All Act," in particular, has already been backed by several of his Democratic competitors. Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, said he wants to make "public colleges and universities tuition free.”


A new survey by GoBankingRates also discovered in a recent poll that 42 percent of Americans believe their college education wasn't worth the debt.

But Forbes said it's also important to focus on the "human angle" when picking a school as well.

"College graduates find better jobs, earn more money, and suffer less unemployment than high school graduates do. They also live more stable family lives, enjoy better health, and live longer. They commit fewer crimes and participate more in civic life," according to a University of California, Berkley study, which said college grads are more likely to say they're "very happy" compared to those with high school diplomas.

Overall, Forbes determined that Brigham Young University came out on top, followed by Princeton University and the University of California Irvine. The University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Berkely were ranked No. 4 and 5, respectively.


"For the second straight year, UC campuses made a strong showing on the Forbes America’s Best Value Colleges 2019 list, with three campuses ranked in the top 10," UC Berkeley said in a news release on Thursday, offering a "big congrats" to its fellow sister schools.

Here's a look at the top 20 schools Forbes' named in its annual list.

  1. Brigham Young University
  2. Princeton University
  3. University of California, Irvine
  4. University of California, Los Angeles
  5. University of California, Berkely
  6. Stanford University
  7. Harvard University
  8. Amherst College
  9. CUNY, Baruch College
  10. University of Washington, Seattle
  11. University of California, Davis
  12. University of California, Santa Barbara
  13. University of California, San Diego
  14. Pomona College
  15. Yale University
  16. Duke University
  17. Williams College
  18. Datmouth College
  19. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  20. University of Florida