Where millennials should go to school...and stay

Best college towns
The best college towns for work and play   

It's a world of drowning debt for young Americans in college. Yet Bankrate says millennials are more optimistic about their finances than any other age group.
Are they nuts?

Maybe they're GENIUSES! At least if they live in one of the Best U.S. Cities for Millennial College Students, a list put out by OnlineColleges.com.

The results are all over the map, literally, but here are the top five towns:

#5: Colorado Springs, Colorado

There are plenty of opportunities and plenty of young people here in the home of the Air Force Academy. OnlineColleges points out that Trulia calls Colorado Springs the fastest-growing city for millennials, and a lot of them are in college or grad school. "The city is home to employment opportunities within the defense industry," but hourly wages are below the national average, at $21.83 an hour. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year and spectacular scenery, however, many young people are attracted to Colorado Springs' Rocky Mountain High (and I don't just mean the mountains).

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#4: Seattle

The Emerald City area is home to several successful companies: Amazon, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Starbucks, Costco (you get the picture). These companies provide good jobs at good pay, with average wages topping $28 a hour, according to the Census Bureau. OnlineColleges reports more than 1 in 4 people moving to Seattle between 2010 and 2012 were millennials, and the city ranks very high in culture and entertainment value.

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#3: Oklahoma City

Here's the low-down on OKC: low in-state tuition, low cost of living, low unemployment. The city is investing in new venues or upgrading older ones for sports and entertainment. "OKC is a place that has a bright future," said Drew Dugan of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, adding that the city "has a cool and hip vibe that we have not had before."

#2: Omaha, Nebraska

If you hate commuting … drive to Omaha now. OnlineColleges says Omaha has the shortest commute of any city on its list, averaging 20 minutes one way. Omaha also has the second lowest cost of living and unemployment rate on the list, and it, too, ranks high for entertainment, being "world renowned for its indie music scene." Here in the heartland, Omaha is home to five Fortune 500 companies (think Warren Buffett). "The Omaha metro has 50 percent more Fortune 500s than New York City, almost twice as many as Chicago, Dallas or Denver, about four times more than Kansas City and Los Angeles and more than 10 times more than Austin, Texas," said Daniel Shipp, vice chancellor at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Well, speaking of Austin...

#1: Austin

"There's no disputing that young people like living in Austin," writes OnlineColleges. There's the tech scene, the music scene, the food scene, all the venture capital funding start-ups, happening smack dab in the middle of a college town that's also the state capital. Austin has the largest population per capita of millennials, coupled with low unemployment and tuition costs. On the down side, it is becoming more expensive to live in Austin. RentJungle reports the average rent in April was $1,360 a month, up about 10 percent in a year. However, wages are above the national average, around $23 an hour. "You can start to see why Austin is a mecca of millennials."