These schools keep costs low and put graduates on pathways to lucrative careers

Kevin McAllister:

Baruch College offers the best value of any university in the country, according to the new Wall Street Journal/College Pulse college rankings.

Public schools dominate the list of colleges that offer students and families the best bang for their buck, taking 35 of the top 50 slots.

California schools also pepper the upper echelon of the value ranking, with nine of the top 20 schools located in the Golden State. Of those nine colleges, six belong to the California State University system, led by its Los Angeles campus, No. 3 on the value list.

(You can see our full overall ranking, as well as rankings focused on student experiences and schools’ impact on graduate salaries and social mobility, here, along with the methodology behind them all.)

The question of how much a college degree can boost future earnings and how that compares with its cost has become a centerpiece of the college decision process, as many Americans have come to doubt the value of a degree.

Guided by research conducted by the public-policy think tank Third Way, our best-value calculation looks at how quickly a degree from each college pays for its cost through the salary boost it provides its students. We do that by estimating the net price of a four-year education at each school, and comparing that to how much higher the median salary of the school’s graduates is, 10 years after enrollment, than that of high-school graduates in the state where the school is located.

Net price is the average overall cost of attending the college for students who receive federal financial aid, including tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies, taking into account any grants and scholarships.