The best college towns in America are places where students can find a variety of activities to keep them entertained. They also offer low cost of living and access to great schools.

The best college towns 2020 is a question that has been asked by many people. In order to find the best college town for you, it’s important that you take into account what type of life you want to live there.

Many universities are preparing for a second year of pandemic precautions when they return to in-person classes this September. Proof of immunization and a negative COVID test are as ubiquitous as shower caddies and mini-fridges for many people.

Though college students have a minimal risk of severe sickness or death, their return to school had a rippling effect in college communities last year. Now that the Delta variety is causing havoc throughout the country, health authorities are predicting another autumn outbreak.

Despite the fact that 10% of schools are moving to 100% online instruction, college towns continue to retain a sentimental position in American society. We built our ranking of America’s top college cities on three criteria:

  • Affordability: median student loan debt (-4x), rent for a one-bedroom apartment (-4x), net cost (-4x) (-3x)
  • Walk score (4x), bike score (3x), entertainment options per 100,000 inhabitants (2.5x), eateries per 100,000 residents (2.5x), Power 5 (2x), student-to-population ratio (2x)
  • Graduation rate (2x), retention rate (2.5x), median salary after ten years (2x), expenditure per student (1.5x), median number of undergraduates (1.5x), admission rate (1.5x) are all indicators of college excellence (-1x)

DepositPhotos.com is the source of this image.

Methodology

Happy_students_uGTOoLS The best college towns in America

To compile our list of college towns, we utilized data from the Department of Education. A college town has to have a four-year, degree-granting school with a majority of full-time students and a majority of degrees granted at the Bachelor’s level or above to qualify.

Zumper (rent prices), ApartmentList (rent costs), Walk Score (walkability and bikeability), the US Census (population estimates, number of businesses), and the US Department of Education provided data for the ranking criteria (all other data points).

The information was divided into three categories: affordability, college quality, and college town quality of life.

Living costs and college affordability were evaluated, with negatively weighted measures reflecting less affordable cities.

  • The median student loan principal amount at the time of repayment (about 3 times): (typically about 6 months after full-time student status ends). The median value for institutions with the same Carnegie Undergraduate Profile Designation was used to fill up the gaps.
  • Rent (about 4x): The monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment near school. We utilized the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the town if rent data was not available near the college. When such figures were unavailable, rent was calculated using the state’s median cost of a one-bedroom unit. The rent cost was averaged across all of the town’s institutions.
  • Net Cost (-4): The average tuition and fees minus scholarships, aids, and grants throughout the student population, averaged across each institution in the town, was used to determine the net cost of attendance. The median value for institutions with the same Carnegie Undergraduate Profile Designation was used to fill up the gaps.

The overall number of students, exclusivity, retention and graduation rates, graduate incomes, and resources allocated to teaching at the institution were all factors in determining education quality.

  • Retention Rate (2.5x): The percentage of full-time, first-time, degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates who are still enrolled in the fall one year after beginning at the school, as averaged across all institutions in town. The median value for institutions with the same Carnegie Undergraduate Profile Designation was used to fill up the gaps.
  • Graduation Rate (2x): Percentage of students who finish their program in less than 150 percent of the anticipated time (e.g., 6 years for a normal 4-year degree program), averaged across all institutions in the town. The median value for institutions with the same Carnegie Undergraduate Profile Designation was used to fill up the gaps.
  • Median Wages (2x): Median earnings of students who are working and not enrolled in college 10 years following their initial enrollment, averaged across all institutions in town. The median value across all institutions was used to replace missing data.
  • Number of Undergraduate Students (1.5x): Total number of undergraduate certificate/degree-seeking students enrolled in all of the town’s institutions.
  • Instructional Expenditures per Student (1.5x): Averaged over all colleges in the town, university expenditure on instruction per full-time, degree-seeking student.
  • Admission Rate (-1x): The percentage of applicants who are admitted for admission, averaged across all of the town’s institutions. The median value for institutions with the same Carnegie Undergraduate Profile Designation was used to fill up the gaps.

In addition, we took into account social and quality of life aspects in college cities and their surrounding regions.

  • Walkability near the college (averaged across all institutions) is given a four-point score.
  • Bikeability near the college (3x) is averaged across all institutions.
  • Entertainment establishments (2.5x): Per 100,000 inhabitants, the number of arts, entertainment, and leisure establishments. The median number of businesses across all towns was used to replace missing data.
  • Eateries (2.5x): Per 100,000 inhabitants, the number of restaurants. The median number of businesses across all towns was used to replace missing data.
  • Power 5 Designation (2x): A binary (yes/no) indicator of whether or not at least one of the town’s colleges is a member of one of the Power 5 Conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC).
  • Student-to-Population Ratio (2x): The number of students enrolled in all of the town’s colleges divided by the total population.

Each of the measures listed above was computed for a particular town’s institutions (by averaging or summing across the colleges). After that, the data was normalized using z-scores and multiplied by their corresponding weights. Each metric’s weighted score was added together to produce a weighted score for each of the categories (affordability, college quality, and quality of life), which was then added together to give a total score for the overall ranking.

jacoblund is the author of this image.

Golden, Colorado (50).

Colorado_School_of_Mines-college-towns The best college towns in America

Colorado School of Mines is one of the best colleges in the state.

iStock/knowlesgallery/knowlesgallery

Ames, Iowa (49).

Iowa_State_University-college-towns The best college towns in America

Iowa State University is one of the best colleges in the country.

C5Media / iStock / iStock / iStock / iStock / I

Lexington, Kentucky is number 48 on the list.

University_of_Kentucky-college-towns The best college towns in America

Universities: University of Kentucky, University of Kentucky, University of Kentucky, University of Kentucky, University

ehrlif/iStock/ehrlif/iStock/ehrlif/iStock/ehrlif/iSt

Columbia, South Carolina is number 47.

iStock-1136425516 The best college towns in America

University of South Carolina-Columbia, Benedict College, and Columbia College are the colleges that make up the University of South Carolina-Columbia.

Kruck20 / istockphoto contributed to this image.

Lexington, Virginia (#46)

Depositphotos_62926757_s-2019 The best college towns in America

Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute are two colleges in the area.

DepositPhotos.com is the source of this image.

Clemson, South Carolina (45).

Clemson_University-college-towns The best college towns in America

Colleges:

Clemson University is located in Clemson, South Carolina.

Jim Brown / iStock / iStock / iStock / iStock /

Baton Rouge, Louisiana is number 44.

Louisiana_State_University-college-towns The best college towns in America

Louisiana State University, Southern University, and A&M College are some of the colleges in the area.

ReDunnLev / iStock / ReDunnLev / iStock / ReDunnLev / iS

New Brunswick, New Jersey is number 43 on the list.

Rutgers_University-New_Brunswick-college-towns The best college towns in America

Rutgers University-New Brunswick is a public university in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

luvemakphoto / iStock / luvemakphoto / iStock / luvemakphoto / I

Norman, Oklahoma is number 42.

University_of_Oklahoma-Norman_Campus-college-to The best college towns in America

University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus, University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus, University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus, University of Oklahoma

Wolterk / iStock / Wolterk / iStock / Wolterk / iStock

Notre Dame, Indiana (No. 41)

University_of_Notre_Dame-college-towns The best college towns in America

University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College are two colleges in the area.

Aaron Yoder / iStock / iStock / iStock / iStock / I

Tucson, Arizona (40).

University_of_Arizona_-college-town The best college towns in America

University of Arizona is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

Wolterk / iStock / Wolterk / iStock / Wolterk / iStock

Minneapolis is number 39.

1024px-Murphy_Hall_Minnesota_5 The best college towns in America

Dunwoody College of Technology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and Augsburg University are among the colleges in the area.

AlexiusHoratius is the author of this image.

La Jolla, California is number 38.

iStock-896352366 The best college towns in America

University of California, San Diego, and National University are two colleges in the area.

InnaPoka / istockphoto contributed to this image.

Provo, Utah (#37)

81836543_10157092814958049_7014399983482830848_ The best college towns in America

Brigham Young University is one of the best colleges in the country.

Brigham Young University in Laie, Hawaii, provided this image.

Rolla, Missouri is number 36.

missouri-university-of-science-best-college-tow The best college towns in America

Missouri University of Science and Technology is one of the state’s colleges.

Adavidb / Wiki Commons / Adavidb / Wiki Commons / Adavidb / Wiki Commons

Blacksburg, Virginia is number 35.

Virginia_Polytechnic_Institute_-college-town The best college towns in America

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University are two colleges in Virginia.

ablokhin/iStock, ablokhin/iStock, ablokhin/iStock, ablokhin/

Columbia, Missouri is number 34.

IMG_3695 The best college towns in America

University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia College, and Stephens College are among the colleges in the area.

Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri is the source of this image.

Bloomington, Indiana is number 33.

1024px-Sarah_Parke_Morrison_Hall_Indiana_Univer The best college towns in America

Indiana University-Bloomington is a public university in Bloomington, Indiana.

Wardsr is the creator of this image.

Tallahassee, Florida is number 32.

Florida_State_University-college-town The best college towns in America

Florida State University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Florida State University, Florida State University, Florida State University, Florida State University, Florida State University, Florida State

RAUL RODRIGUEZ/ iStock/ RAUL RODRIGUEZ/ iStock/ RAUL RODRIGUEZ/ iSt

Stillwater, Oklahoma is number 31.

Oklahoma_State_University-college-town The best college towns in America

Oklahoma State University is one of the best colleges in the state.

Wolterk / iStock / Wolterk / iStock / Wolterk / iStock

College Park, Maryland is number 30.

Depositphotos_51352541_s-2019 The best college towns in America

University of Maryland-College Park is a public university in College Park, Maryland.

DepositPhotos.com is the source of this image.

Madison, Wisconsin is number 29.

univesrity-of-wisconson-startups The best college towns in America

Edgewood College, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Herzing University-Madison are among the colleges in the Madison area.

University of Wisconsin-Madison provided this image.

Newark, Delaware is number 28 on the list.

university-of-delaware-college-town The best college towns in America

Universities: University of Delaware, University of Delaware, University of Delaware, University of Delaware, University

w:User talk:Cargoudel / Wiki Commons / w:User talk:Cargoudel / w:User talk:Cargoudel / w:U

Iowa City, Iowa is number 27.

University_of_Iowa_stadium-sports-tradition The best college towns in America

Universities: University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Iowa State University, Iowa State University, Iowa

C5Media / iStock / iStock / iStock / iStock / I

Los Angeles is number 26.

University-of-Southern-California-startups The best college towns in America

Occidental College, Loyola Marymount University, California State University-Los Angeles, Mount Saint Mary’s University, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College, Occidental College

Image credit: iStock/Laser1987

Eugene, Oregon is ranked number 25 in the United States.

University_of_Oregon-college-town The best college towns in America

Universities: University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Oregon State University, Oregon State University, Oregon

iStock picture by joshuaraineyphotography.

Athen, Georgia (#24)

University_of_Georgia-college-town The best college towns in America

University of Georgia is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/iStock/iStock/iStock/iStock/iStock/iS

Ithaca, New York is number 23 on the list.

Depositphotos_11850159_s-2019 The best college towns in America

Ithaca College and Cornell University are two colleges in Ithaca, New York.

DepositPhotos.com is the source of this image.

Boulder, Colorado is number 22 on the list.

iStock-149076626 The best college towns in America

University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado at

twilightproductions / istockphoto / twilightproductions / istockphoto / twilightproductions / istock

Shepherdstown, West Virginia is number twenty-one.

shepherd-university-college-town The best college towns in America

Shepherd University is one of the colleges in the area.

Acroterion / Wiki Commons is the source of this image.

College Station, Texas is number 20.

1080px-Texas_AM_UniversityCommerce_March_2016_0 The best college towns in America

Colleges: Texas A&M University-College Station, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas A&M University-Kingsville,

Michael Barera is the author of this image.

Davis, California is number 19 on the list.

University_of_California-Davis-college-town The best college towns in America

Universities: University of California-Davis, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Berkeley

AlessandraRC / iStock / AlessandraRC / iStock / AlessandraRC / iSt

East Lansing, Michigan is number 18 on the list.

Depositphotos_163918978_s-2019 The best college towns in America

Michigan State University is one of the best colleges in the country.

DepositPhotos.com is the source of this image.

Oxford, Mississippi is number seventeen.

University_of_Mississippi-college-town The best college towns in America

University of Mississippi is one of the state’s colleges.

Kirkikis / iStock / Kirkikis / iStock / Kirkikis / iStock

University Park, Pennsylvania is number sixteen.

Pennsylvania_State_University-college-town The best college towns in America

Pennsylvania State University is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

drnadig / iStock / drnadig / iStock / drnadig / iS

Fairfax, Virginia is number fifteen.

george-mason-college-towns The best college towns in America

George Mason University is one of the best colleges in the country.

Nicolas Tan/Creative Services/George Mason University / Wiki Commons image

Evanston, Illinois is number fourteen.

Depositphotos_50950485_s-2019 The best college towns in America

Northwestern University is one of the best colleges in the country.

DepositPhotos.com is the source of this image.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina is number thirteen.

University_of_North_Carolina_at_Pembroke The best college towns in America

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Pilotguy/Wikimedia Commons/Wikimedia Commons/Wikimedia Commons/Wikimedia Commons

Morgantown, West Virginia is number 12 on the list.

West_Virginia_University-collee-towns The best college towns in America

West Virginia University is one of the state’s colleges.

Image credit: iStock/catnap72

West Lafayette, Indiana (#11)

purdue-university The best college towns in America

Purdue University is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

akrassel / istockphoto / akrassel / istockphoto / akrassel / istockphoto /

Gainesville, Florida is ranked number ten.

1024px-UF_EmersonAlumniHall The best college towns in America

University of Florida and Santa Fe College are two colleges in the area.

WillMcC is the author of this image.

Champaign, Illinois is number nine.

Main_Library-University_of_Illinois_at_Urbana-C The best college towns in America

Universities: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Springfield, University of Illinois at Springfield, University of Illinois at Springfield, University

Killivalavan Solai provided the image.

Berkeley, California is number eight on the list.

University-Of-California-Berkeley-startups The best college towns in America

University of California-Berkeley is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

Kirkikis / iStock / Kirkikis / iStock / Kirkikis / iStock

Cambridge, Massachusetts is number seven.

1024px-Memorial_Hall_Harvard_University_starkly The best college towns in America

Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Lesley University are among the colleges.

Ario Barzan is the author of this image.

Ann Arbor, Michigan is number six.

1024px-A_picture_of_the_University_of_Michigan_ The best college towns in America

Universities: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Michigan-Dearborn, University of Michigan-Dearborn,

User: (WT-shared) Jha4ceb at wts wikivoyage contributed this image.

Charlottesville, Virginia is number five.

1024px-Rotunda_at_University_of_Virginia The best college towns in America

University of Virginia is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

Bestbudbrian is the author of this image.

Princeton, New Jersey is number four.

Depositphotos_74368013_s-2019 The best college towns in America

Princeton University is one of the best colleges in the country.

DepositPhotos.com is the source of this image.

Pasadena, California is number three.

Depositphotos_33675961_s-2019 The best college towns in America

California Institute of Technology is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

DepositPhotos.com is the source of this image.

2. Virginia’s Williamsburg

1024px-Rear_view_of_the_Wren_Building_College_o The best college towns in America

William and Mary are two of the most well-known colleges in the United States.

Jrcla2 / Public domain, Jrcla2 / Public domain, Jrcla2 / Public domain, Jrcla2 /

1. Stanford University in California

1024px-Stanford_University_Main_Quad_May_2011_0 The best college towns in America

Stanford University is one of the best colleges in the country.

Related:

MediaFeed.org syndicated this story, which first appeared on ListWithClever.com.

King of Hearts is the source of this image.

AlertMe

The best college towns in America is a topic that has been discussed for years. There are many different opinions on what the best college town is. Reference: best college towns in the south.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the #1 college town in America?

The #1 college town in America is the University of Pennsylvania.

What is the best college city in America?

The best college city in America is Boston.

What is the best place to live for a college student?

The best place to live for a college student would be somewhere that is close enough to campus, but not too far from the city.

  • best college towns to live in 2021
  • most beautiful college towns in america
  • worst college towns
  • forbes best college towns
  • best college towns in the west
You May Also Like

What Happens If Bitcoin Crashes Again?

As of this writing, Bitcoin is trading at $8,917 (and more than…

50 30 20 Budget with Examples (Free Budget Spreadsheet & Printables)

A budget is an important tool to help you manage your money.…

How to Start Planning For Retirement in 3 Easy Steps

Planning for retirement is more critical than ever. While the stock market…

What Is Money Made Of? And How It’s Made!

Online poker is a growing industry with a lot of competition. Since…