The Princeton Review's 2017 Edition of  Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck  is now available

Rankings help students & their families determine the ROI of their college education

This year's top ranked: Princeton, Stanford and MIT
Pomona named for Best Financial Aid, Wabash College for Best Alumni Network, and Bentley University as Best School for Internships

NEW YORK, January 31, 2017  —  The Princeton Review today released the 2017 edition of its annual guide to colleges that the education services company considers the nation's best for academics, affordability/financial aid, and for getting their graduates out the door to satisfying and rewarding careers.    

Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck – 2017 Edition (Penguin Random House / Princeton Review Books, $21.99, January 31) 

The Princeton Review selected these schools based on a comprehensive analysis of more than 650 colleges that weighted 40+ data points to tally ROI (return on investment) ratings for the schools. Data analyzed covered academics, cost, financial aid, graduation rates, student debt and more. The company collected that data from its 2015-16 surveys of administrators and students at the schools. It also factored in data from PayScale from their online compensation survey on starting and mid-career salaries of alumni of the schools. 

"College is a major financial investment and we want to help students and their families get the biggest return on that investment," said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Editor-in-Chief and lead author, Colleges That Pay You Back. "The colleges we have identified offer superb value; not only will students get a great education, but students benefit from generous financial aid, extraordinary career services programs, alumni connections and career opportunities like internships that will help students find jobs when they graduate."

Colleges That Pay You Back has detailed school profiles, plus seven ranking lists: one titled "Top 50 Colleges That Pay You Back" (based on Princeton Review's ROI ratings), and six "Top 25" lists. The full lists, profiles, and information on the project methodology are accessible at

On the "Top 50 Colleges That Pay You Back" list, the top five colleges are:

  1. Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)
  2. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  4. Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, CA)    
  5. California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)

On the six additional lists (each naming 25 colleges), the categories and #1 schools are:

  •  "Best Career Placement" – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  •  "Best Financial Aid" – Pomona College (Claremont, CA) 
  •  "Best Schools for Internships" – Bentley University (Waltham, MA)    
  •  "Best Alumni Network" – Wabash College (Crawfordsville, IN)    
  •  "Best Schools for Making an Impact" – Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)    
  •  "Top Colleges That Pay You Back For Students With No Demonstrated Need – California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)    

The Colleges That Pay You Back project is an expansion of The Princeton Review's annual Best Value Colleges book and list first published in 2004. The Princeton Review expanded the rankings and published the first edition of the book with Random House in 2011. It was then further expanded in response to findings of the company's 2015 College Hopes & Worries Survey, which polled 12,000 college applicants and parents. Franek noted, "While 100% of our respondents viewed college as 'worth it,' worries about college costs and job prospects ran deep. Ninety percent reported financial aid would be 'very necessary' to pay for college, and 40% said their college choice would be the school 'best for my (my child's) career interests.'"

Among the 200 colleges (publics and privates) profiled in the book, the:     

  • average grant to students with need is $25,150;
  • median starting salary of graduates is $51,200 and median mid-career salary is $94,377.    

At the 73 public colleges profiled, the:

  •  average cost of attendance (sticker price minus average grant) is $12,498 for in-state students receiving need-based aid;       
  •  average admission rate is 55%.    

Colleges That Pay You Back also has a list of "Great Schools for the Highest Paying Majors" and profiles of nine tuition-free schools. It is one of 150 Princeton Review books published by Penguin Random House in a line that includes The Best 381 Colleges, known for its 62 categories of college rankings, and Paying For College Without Going Broke .  

The Princeton Review has an infographic on this project at Colleges That Pay You Back. It shows College Board 2016 statistics on college costs and financial aid and Princeton Review information about some top schools on the book's "Best Financial Aid" and "Colleges That Pay You Back" ranking lists.

About The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review is a leading tutoring, test prep and college admission services company. Every year, it helps millions of college- and graduate school-bound students achieve their education and career goals through online and in person courses delivered by a network of more than 4,000 teachers and tutors, online resources, and its more than 150 print and digital books published by Penguin Random House. The Princeton Review is headquartered in New York, NY, and is an operating business of Match Group (NASDAQ: MTCH). For more information, visit  The Princeton Review. Follow the compnay on Twitter  @ThePrincetonRev.

The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.

About Penguin Random House / Princeton Review Books

Penguin Random House LLC is the world's largest English-language general trade book publisher. Its 250 imprints publish more than 70,000 digital and 15,000 print books annually, with more than 100,000 eBooks available worldwide. Among them are best-selling and award-winning fiction, non-fiction and children's books. Random House has been the exclusive trade book publisher of Princeton Review Books since 1986 when the line debuted with "Cracking the System: The SAT" -- the only test-prep guide ever to become a New York Times best seller. The Princeton Review Books line is part of the company's Random House Children's Books division and numbers more than 150 titles. It includes guides to dozens of standardized tests, colleges and graduate schools, and study aid books for pre-teens to post-grads. Follow Penguin Random House on Facebook and Twitter @penguinrandom.


Penguin Random House / The Princeton Review



Note to Editors:

Reporter resources are available. Two complete lists of the colleges in the book are accessible here. One is alphabetical by state/city/school name and one is alphabetical by school name. Each list indicates ranking lists (if any) the schools are on in the book, and their ranks on the lists.