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Forbes ranks U. No. 5 among "America's Top Colleges," No. 2 among "Best Value Colleges"

Nassau in day
Photo Credit: Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

Forbes’ “America’s Top Colleges 2019” rankings, released on Thursday, place the University fifth, the same ranking it received in 2018. However, Forbes moved the University up six spots on its “Best Value Colleges” list, from eighth to second.

The four colleges that outrank the University on the “America’s Top Colleges” list are Harvard University, Stanford University, Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in that order. The 2019 list includes the same top five colleges as the 2018 list, but the order slightly changed, with Stanford overtaking Yale for the number-two spot. The University was listed as having the lowest net price among those top five colleges.


“An Ivy League institution that’s consistently ranked as one of the best schools in the country, Princeton University balances elite academics with an affordable education,” notes the Forbes website.

The “Top College” rankings were based on five general categories, each weighted as a portion of the total ranking: alumni salary as 20 percent, student satisfaction as 20 percent, debt as 20 percent, American leaders as 15 percent, on-time graduation rate as 12.5 percent, and academic success as 12.5 percent. 

The alumni salary portion was measured as “a combination of early and mid-career salaries as reported by the federal College Scorecard and PayScale data and research.” Student satisfaction was measured by federally accounted first-year retention rates as well as by Niche surveys. The debt and on-time graduation rate pieces rewarded schools for low student debt loads and default rates and for high four-year and six-year graduation rates, respectively. The academic success piece rewarded “schools whose alumni win prestigious scholarship and fellowships like the Rhodes and the Fulbright or have earned Ph.Ds,” and the American leaders piece rewarded schools whose alumni are included in Forbes’ database of successful people.

The Ivy League took up eight of the top 15 spots on the Top Colleges list, with the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, and Columbia University listed sixth, seventh, No. 10, No. 11, and No. 14, respectively. UPenn, Brown, and Columbia each moved up one spot from their 2018 ranking, Cornell moved up two spots, and Dartmouth moved down one spot.

The University was the only New Jersey school ranked in the top 100. Forbes ranked Rutgers University, the College of New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Seton Hall University No. 123, No. 149, No. 152, and No. 249, respectively. Eight other New Jersey schools were included on the list, which contained 650 total colleges.

Forbes’ “America’s Best Value Colleges 2019” list, released in April, ranked the University as the second-best value college, behind only Brigham Young University. 


The “Best Value Colleges 2019” ranking was based 20 percent on the 2018 “Top College” rankings, 20 percent on student debt data, 20 percent on alumni earnings data, 20 percent on net price (tuition, fees, and room and board minus grants, scholarships, and education tax benefits), 10 percent on graduation rate, and 10 percent on Pell Grant student presence.

Every Ivy League school was included on the “Best Value Colleges” list. Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth ranked in the top 20 at seventh, No. 15, and No. 18, respectively. Brown, Cornell, and Columbia ranked in the top 50 at No. 33, No. 43, and No. 48, respectively; and the University of Pennsylvania was ranked No. 83 on the list of 299 schools.

Seven other New Jersey schools were also included in the list of 300 “Best Value Colleges.” Rutgers was the only New Jersey school besides the University to crack the top 100, being listed as No. 54 among best value colleges.

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