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47 0 0 0 13 6. 18,000 at public universities this year—or about a third of today’s typical household income. Private-college freshmen are likely to pay almost double that. As a result, for a growing number of students and parents, traditional concerns about a college’s cachet are increasingly shifting to a focus on, well, just cash, says Ann Rossbach, president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. Families are really looking for return on investment.

You’ve heard of the Ivy League? Larisa Munsch, the mother of a rising sophomore at Case Western Reserve University. Munsch helped her son find a good school by building a 25-column spreadsheet comparing factors such as net costs and alumni earnings. MONEY ranks colleges based on 27 measures of educational quality, affordability, and alumni success. This statistical technique also avoids simply rewarding schools for taking in students who’d likely succeed anywhere.

And this year we gave weight to new data developed by Stanford economist Raj Chetty that shows how many low-income students schools propelled into the upper middle class over the past 20 years—pointing to colleges that help students achieve the American dream. More than 700 colleges offer at least a basic level of educational quality. And dozens of affordable schools have excellent track records of helping students attain opportunity and financial stability. All the Ivy League colleges belong to the Paycheck League in part because research shows schools that give students lots of individual attention and have influential alumni networks tend to produce more successful graduates. In fact, Princeton University is our No. But some other high-priced private schools scored poorly because their alumni aren’t thriving in the job market. That’s something Ashley Hall, a 2016 Baruch graduate, appreciates.