– The Princeton Review® today reported its list of Best Value Colleges for 2022. This annual project names the public and private colleges that have earned the education services company’s highest ROI (Return on Investment) rating—a score the company tallies using more than 40 data points.

The Princeton Review chose 209 schools—nine of which are tuition-free— for its 2022 list based on its survey of more than 650 institutions during the 2020-21 school year. To tally the ROI ratings, the company analyzed school-reported data on academics, cost/financial aid, career services, student debt, and graduation rates. Data on the levels of job satisfaction and salary of school alumni also factored into the tallies. The list of the 209 Best Value Colleges is not ranked hierarchically from 1 to 209.

For this project, The Princeton Review reports the top public and the top private schools, in rank order, in seven categories. (A summary showing the categories and #1 schools on the lists follows.)

On the list of Top 50 Public Best Value Colleges overall, the University of California—Berkeley is #1. On the list of Top 50 Private Best Value Colleges overall, Princeton University is #1. (Note: The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.)

Both schools also earned these distinctions on the 2021 lists. They offer exceptional academics and career services and generous financial aid. At the University of California—Berkeley, the average scholarship the university awarded to undergrads with need last year was $21,622, bringing the cost of attendance for those students down to $9,851 from the sticker price of $31,473. At Princeton University, the average scholarship awarded to undergrads with need last year was $61,928, reducing their cost of attendance to $12,262 from the sticker price of $74,190.

The Princeton Review’s six other ranked lists for this project name the top 20 public and the top 20 private schools. All the lists are posted at https://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/best-value-colleges where they are accessible for free with site registration.

“The schools we chose as our Best Value Colleges for 2022 are a select group: they comprise only about 7% of the nation’s four-year undergraduate institutions,” said Rob Franek, editor-in-chief of The Princeton Review. “We commend their administrators, faculties, staff, and alumni for all they are doing to educate their students and guide them to success in their careers. These colleges are also exceptional for the generous amount of financial aid they award to students with need and/or for their comparatively low cost of attendance.”

Franek added, “When we launched our Best Value Colleges project in 2004, paying for college was a daunting challenge for many students and parents. Our annual College Hopes & Worries Survey, which we debuted in 2003, had revealed deep concerns about college affordability. We have seen those concerns rise every year since. Among the respondents to our 2022 survey—more than 14,100 college applicants and parents of applicants—80% told us financial aid will be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ necessary to pay for college, and their biggest worry was ‘level of debt’ to pay for the degree.’ However, 99% of our respondents said they believe college is ‘worth it.’ We agree. We recommend every one of our Best Value Colleges for 2022 as well worth it.”

Best Value Colleges categories and the public and private schools that are #1 on the 2022 lists

  • Best Value Colleges Overall
    #1 Public: University of California—Berkeley / #1 Private: Princeton University (NJ)
  • Best Value Colleges for Financial Aid
    #1 Public: University of Virginia / #1 Private: Princeton University (NJ)
  • Best Value Colleges for Career Placement
    #1 Public: Georgia Institute of Technology / #1 Private: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Best Value Colleges for Internships
    #1 Public: William & Mary (VA) / #1 Private: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (IN)
  • Best Value Colleges for Alumni Networks
    #1 Public: Pennsylvania State University / #1 Private: University of Notre Dame (IN)
  • Best Value Colleges for Making an Impact
    #1 Public: State University of New York—College of Environmental Science and Forestry / #1 Private: Pitzer College (CA)
  • Best Value Colleges for Students with No Demonstrated Need
    #1 Public: University of California—Berkeley / #1 Private: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Compelling Facts About Schools on the Lists

Among the 209 schools on the complete list (73 of which are public, and 136 private):

  • Nearly half (46%) admit 50% or more of their applicants. The school on the list that had the highest admission rate (95%) in 2021 is the University of Utah.

Among the schools on the Top 50 Public Best Value Colleges overall list:

  • The average grant to students with need is $13,076.
  • The median starting salary of graduates is $63,108.
  • The mid-career salary of graduates is $109,700.

Among the schools on the Top 50 Private Best Value Colleges overall list:

  • The average grant to students with need is $49,854.
  • The median starting salary of graduates is $72,680.
  • The mid-career salary of graduates is $115,248.


The Princeton Review analyzed data from its surveys of administrators at more than 650 colleges in 2020–21 as well as from its surveys of students attending the schools to report its list of 209 Best Value Colleges for 2022. The company also factored in data from PayScale.com surveys of alumni of the schools about their starting and mid-career salaries as well as their job satisfaction. Overall, more than 40 data points were used to tally ROI (Return on Investment) rating scores for the schools. Various data points were also used in the tallies of the project’s seven categories of ranked lists.

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