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Lists / Forbes Top 25 Colleges of 2021

Forbes Top 25 Colleges of 2021

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Created by College Confidential
Photo: Vlada Karpovich/Pexels

In the 2021 Forbes ranking of top colleges, a public university earned the number one spot for the first time ever, out ranking even Harvard, the previous number one spot holder. In 2020, Forbes took a break from the list to modify how they calculate their top ranked schools. After the reworking of the methodology for calculating the top colleges, six total public schools made it into the top 25.

The new methodology Forbes used for calculating the latest list of America’s top colleges includes accounting for alumni salary, debt, return on investment, graduation rate, how many Forbes American Leaders are produced by each school, retention rate, and academic success.

Listed below are the top 25 schools on the Forbes Top Colleges list for 2021.

1. University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley is ranked as Forbes’ the top college for 2021. According to Forbes, UC Berkeley has an average grant aid of $19,124 and an average of $6,000 of debt per student. Berkeley has a median ten-year salary of $138,000. In 2019, Berkeley was 13th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 4-Year, Public
  • 2. Yale University

    According to Forbes, Yale University has an average grant aid of $55,827 and an average of $5,056 of debt per student. Yale has a median ten-year salary of $141,300. In 2019, Yale ranked third on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Yale University
    New Haven, CT 4-Year, Private
  • 3. Princeton University

    According to Forbes, Princeton University has an average grant aid of $52,188 and an average debt of $3,888 per student. Princeton has a median 10-year salary of $150,500. In 2019, Princeton ranked fifth on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Princeton University
    Princeton, NJ 4-Year, Private
  • 4. Stanford University

    Reported by Forbes, Stanford University has an average grant aid of $54,808 and an average debt of $8,205 per student. Stanford has a median 10-year salary of $147,100. In 2019, Stanford came in second on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Stanford University
    Stanford, CA 4-Year, Private
  • 5. Columbia University

    Columbia University has, according to Forbes, an average grant aid of $55,071 and an average debt of $10,493 per student. Columbia has a median 10-year salary of $132,100. In 2019, Columbia was 14th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Columbia University
    New York, NY 4-Year, Private
  • 6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    According to Forbes, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has an average grant aid of $49,775 and an average debt of $8,568 per student. MIT has a median 10-year salary of $158,100. In 2019, MIT ranked fourth on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Cambridge, MA 4-Year, Private
  • 7. Harvard University

    According to Forbes, Harvard University has an average grant aid of $55,455 and an average debt of $5,770 per student. Harvard has a median 10-year salary of $147,700. From 2017 until 2021, Harvard placed first on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Harvard University
    Cambridge, MA 4-Year, Private
  • 8. University of California, Los Angeles

    According to Forbes, University of California, Los Angeles has an average grant aid of $19,595 and an average debt of $5,631 per student. UCLA has a median 10-year salary of $122,400. In 2019, UCLA was 38th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, CA 4-Year, Public
  • 9. University of Pennsylvania

    Reported by Forbes, University of Pennsylvania has an average grant aid of $50,532 and an average debt of $9,413 per student. University of Pennsylvania has a median 10-year salary of $142,900. University of Pennsylvania was 6th on Forbes’ list of America’s top colleges in 2019.

  • University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 4-Year, Private
  • 10. Northwestern University

    According to Forbes, Northwestern University has an average grant aid of $48,438 and an average debt of $5,670 per student. Northwestern has a median 10-year salary of $120,300. In 2019, Northwestern was 17th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Northwestern University
    Evanston, IL 4-Year, Private
  • 11. Dartmouth College

    Dartmouth College has, according to Forbes, an average grant aid of $50,490 and an average debt of $5,412 per student. Dartmouth has a median 10-year salary of $141,400. In 2019, Dartmouth placed 10th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Dartmouth College
    Hanover, NH 4-Year, Private
  • 12. Duke University

    According to Forbes, Duke University has an average grant aid of $50,719 and an average debt of $6,544 per student. Duke has a median 10-year salary of $135,000. In 2019, Duke ranked ninth on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges list.

  • Duke University
    Durham, NC 4-Year, Private
  • 13. Cornell University

    Reported by Forbes, Cornell University has an average grant aid of $44,955 and an average debt of $7,078 per student. Cornell has a median 10-year salary of $133,100. In 2019, Cornell was 11th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY 4-Year, Private
  • 14. Vanderbilt University

    Vanderbilt University has, according to Forbes, an average grant aid of $44,291 and an average debt of $8,934 per student. Vanderbilt has a median 10-year salary of $122,400. In 2019, Vanderbilt was 27th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Vanderbilt University
    Nashville, TN 4-Year, Private
  • 15. University of California, San Diego

    According to Forbes, University of California, San Diego has an average grant aid of $18,237 and an average debt of $6,137 per student. University of California, San Diego has a median 10-year salary of $128,900. In 2019, UC San Diego was 79th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • University of California, San Diego
    La Jolla, CA 4-Year, Public
  • 16. Amherst College

    According to Forbes, Amherst College has an average grant aid of $57,627 and an average debt of $7,348 per student. Amherst College has a median 10-year salary of $127,100. In 2019, Amherst College was 28th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Amherst College
    Amherst, MA 4-Year, Private
  • 17. University of Southern California

    According to Forbes, University of Southern California has an average grant aid of $37,217 and an average debt of $6,784 per student. USC has a median 10-year salary of $126,300. In 2019, USC was 30th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • University of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA 4-Year, Private
  • 18. Williams College

    According to Forbes, Williams College has an average grant aid of $55,897 and an average debt of $4,163 per student. Williams College has a median 10-year salary of $142,300. In 2019, Williams College was 19th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Williams College
    Williamstown, MA 4-Year, Private
  • 19. Pomona College

    Reported by Forbes, Pomona College has an average grant aid of $53,449 and an average debt of $6,834 per student. Pomona College has a median 10-year salary of $121,900. In 2019, Pomona College was 12th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Pomona College
    Claremont, CA 4-Year, Private
  • 20. University of California, Davis

    University of California, Davis has, according to Forbes, an average grant aid of $19,687 and an average debt of $5,368 per student. University of California, Davis has a median 10-year salary of $119,900. In 2019, UC Davis was 88th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • University of California, Davis
    Davis, CA 4-Year, Public
  • 21. Georgetown University

    According to Forbes, Georgetown University has an average grant aid of $45,398 and an average debt of $6,913 per student. Georgetown has a median 10-year salary of $134,500. In 2019, Georgetown was 15th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Georgetown University
    Washington, DC 4-Year, Private
  • 22. University of Michigan

    According to Forbes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has an average grant aid of $19,728 and an average debt of $7,305 per student. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has a median 10-year salary of $112,300. In 2019, University of Michigan was 20th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • University of Michigan
    Ann Arbor, MI 4-Year, Public
  • 23. University of Chicago

    According to Forbes, University of Chicago has an average grant aid of $43,836 and an average debt of $9,735 per student. University of Chicago has a median 10-year salary of $123,100. In 2019, University of Chicago was 16th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • University of Chicago
    Chicago, IL 4-Year, Private
  • 24. Rice University

    According to Forbes, Rice University has an average grant aid of $44,815 and an average debt of $7,188 per student. Rice has a median 10-year salary of $134,100. In 2019, Rice was 21st on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • Rice University
    Houston, TX 4-Year, Private
  • 25. University of Florida

    According to Forbes, University of Florida has an average grant aid of $10,814 and an average debt of $5,783 per student. University of Florida has a median 10-year salary of $105,200. In 2019, University of Florida was 70th on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges List.

  • University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL 4-Year, Public
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