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On a budget? Top 20 best value colleges

Princeton Review releases its annual list of schools that give you the most bang for your buck. Colleges are chosen based on factors in three areas: academics, cost of attendance and financial aid.
/ Source: TODAY

The Princeton Review chose the 100 schools on its Best Value Colleges for 2010 list based on institutional data and student opinion surveys collected from more than 650 colleges and universities the company regards as the nation's academically best undergraduate institutions. The institutional data was collected from the fall of 2008 through fall of 2009.

The selection process took into account a wide range of data that included more than 30 factors in three areas: academics, cost of attendance, and financial aid. Academic factors included the quality of students the schools attract as measured by admissions credentials as well as how students rated their academic experiences. Cost of attendance factors included tuition, room and board and required fees. Financial aid factors included the average gift aid (grants and scholarships, or free money) awarded to students, the percentage of graduating students who took out loans to pay for school, and the average debt of those students. Also included was survey data on how satisfied students were with the financial aid packages they received.

Here, Princeton Review shares the top 10 private and public schools that made the cut.

1. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Penn.)

2. Harvard College (Cambridge, Mass.)

3. Wesleyan College (Macon, Ga.)

4. Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.)

5. Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

6. Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.)

7. Rice University (Houston, Texas)

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.)

9. Amherst College (Amherst, Mass.)

10. Wellesley College (Wellesley, Mass.)

1. University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.)

2. City University of New York — Hunter College (New York, N.Y.)

3. New College of Florida (Sarasota, Fla.)

4. Florida State University (Tallahassee, Fla.)

5. University of Colorado (Boulder, Colo.)

6. State University of New York at Binghamton (Binghamton, N.Y.)

7. Univ. of Georgia (Athens, Ga.)

8. Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Va.)

9. Texas A & M University (College Station, Texas)

10. University of Oklahoma (Norman, Okla.)

To see the entire “Best Value Colleges for 2009” report and access a database that provides in-depth details about each school, click here and here.