For the 4-year colleges we defined "best" as being those bachelor-degree granting institutions with graduation rates of at least 40% within six years*. We also calculated each institution's ROI. We compared the cost to attend each college to the wage earnings of its graduates within a few years of graduation.
For the 2-year associate degree granting institutions, we included over 200 of the best. Most are public colleges and all are non-profit. These are schools with good graduation rates and an average per student annual cost of under $15,000. Nearly all of these schools are community colleges with open admission policies, meaning that there is no minimum GPA or minimum SAT/ACT score required for admission. Community colleges often work with local businesses, industry and government to create customized vocational training programs to meet economic needs with trades and careers such as nursing, health information technology, culinary arts, advanced manufacturing, and green jobs.