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Money's Best Colleges List Focuses on Value

Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., and Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine, are among the lesser-known schools that made it into the top ten of Money magazine's "Best Colleges" list.

Alongside Stanford, Princeton, and Harvard Universities, these institutions were rated highly by the magazine for value as calculated using a methodology that considers the quality of education, affordability, and outcomes.

While controversy has swirled in higher education circles about the difficulty in coming up with federal measures for students' success, Money managed to rank colleges based on graduates' earnings (early and mid-career) and four other criteria that adjust income by major and other factors. The push back by college administrators over metrics has led the Obama administration to change its plans to rate schools based on value, officials announced last week.

In its list, Money screened out schools with graduation rates below the median and those facing financial difficulties. Factors weighed for affordability included merit aid, parent and student borrowing, the typical length of time to graduate, tuition increases, and other measures. With its "value added" grade, the magazine considered how well students at each school did compared to what would be expected given their economic and academic backgrounds and the institution's mix of majors.

After the analysis, 736 colleges made Money's cut. Along with the new list out this week, Money has an interactive tool on its Web site to help students identify colleges that are a good fit based on their individual criteria.

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