Virginia tops a new ranking that analyzes the best states for higher education. The state took the No. 1 spot based on its ability to educate its residents and high graduation rates.

The annual list, from financial technology company SmartAsset, compares four-year public colleges and universities using various metrics such as undergraduate graduation rates, average net price, 20-year return on investment (ROI), and the student-faculty ratio.

Virginia consistently appears in the annual ranking’s top states. It has one of the highest average graduation rates in the study (70 percent); and the average 20-year ROI for graduates is $442,660–the fourth-highest ROI in the study. For 2017, both the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary rank among the top 10 public universities in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Rounding out the top 5 are:

California: The state’s average graduation rate is 63 percent–the eighth-highest in the country. Plus, the state of California has the second-highest ROI in that U.S. Graduates earn an average ROI of $459,656 over the course of 20 years.

(Next page: How the rest of the states stacked up)


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