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College Value Determined by More Than Just Sticker Price

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They say college is an investment, but does a degree from one school pay more dividends than others? NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

We all know college is expensive, so let's get the big number out of the way first.

"The really expensive schools we figure on average cost about $200,000 to $250,000 for a degree," Kim Clark Senior Writer for Money Magazine.

Money Magazine has compiled an list of the Best College Values. The colleges they say give you most bang for your buck are the ones that actually prove to be a good investment.

The analysis, of course, starts with the sticker price, which senior writer Kim Clark says few students actually pay. Take Princeton—fourth on their list.

At a cost, of almost $60,000 per year, math tells you a four year degree will run about $240,000.

"Not so. First of all, 60 percent of their students get aid and they give out really big grants so the average price across all students is we figure $146,000 dollars for a degree," Clark says.

The magazine also looked at how long it takes to finish your degree to calculate what that degree actually costs. They then went one step further, studying the how the graduates fared.

"Did you pay off your student loan? What kind of job did you get? How much are you earning within a few years of graduation? So the cost and the benefit," Clark says.

This explains how Babson College landed at the top of the class. A degree does cost about $200,000, but Clark says it pays off.

"The average Babson grad within a few years is reporting an average salary of about $60,000 a year which is pretty terrific. You look at other expensive schools and some kids are reporting salaries of $35-40,000 so you’re paying a little more for Babson, but you’re getting a lot more," Clark says.

When it comes to footing the bill, Clark has two pieces of advice. For students: stick to federal loans. For parents: start saving early.

"There’s a myth out there that it doesn’t pay to save for college. That is so not true. The numbers are very clear. It really pays to save for college. Whatever little tiny bit you might miss out in need based aid is just so overwhelmed by the fact that you have the money, you don’t have to borrow, and actually the more money you have gives you more choices in colleges," Clark says.

For a look at the complete list of 665 schools, visit money.com/colleges.

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