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Freshman Year

Freshman Year Experience: If You Want the Best Value on Education, Go to These Colleges

Is College Worth the Cost? 2:12

It's no secret: The price of college is skyrocketing. And with a debt burden that keeps on rising too — the class of 2014 inherited the most debt of any college graduating class — getting the best return on a degree may be more important than ever.

Despite the soaring costs, study after study finds it's worth it to go to college — although there are certain variables that improve your return on investment. And some schools give you more bang for your buck, according to Money Magazine.

Learn more about this project at The Freshman Year Experience

The Freshman Year Experience: Meet the students

The magazine released a list this week of best colleges by value based on criteria like graduation rates and affordability.

At the top of the list? Stanford University, which has a graduation rate of 96 percent, a net price of $178,731 for a diploma from there, and an average early-career earnings of $64,400 a year for grads. Stanford was given a B+ for its "value-added grade," which Money measured based on how well students at each school did versus what would be expected, given their economic and academic backgrounds.

Others further down the list earned higher value-added grades: University of California-San Diego, for example, was ranked No. 32 on the list with its 86 percent graduation rate and post-college earnings of #51,300 per year, but got an A as its value-added grade.

Check out the full list here.