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Typically, the list of best places to get a college degree is long on the usual Ivy League suspects.
"We wanted to look at your return on investment, so we looked at three things—educational quality, affordability and career outcomes," said Money senior writer Donna Rosato.
"The strength of Babson is it's very focused," she said. "The freshman class starts a business and they all work together, so it's hands-on experience."
Money's editors found that Babson alumni earn an average annual salary of $59,700 within five years of graduation, an outcome critical to the school's top ranking.
Babson administrators and professors "have very close relationships with corporations, paid internships and a high success rate of getting their students jobs after college," said Rosato, who advises families to add the career services office to their campus tour.
With just more than 2,000 students, Babson specializes in business and entrepreneurship. There is one major offered—a bachelor of science in business—but course work covers a range of liberal arts subjects. The net price of a four-year degree costs Babson students $198,917.
The average four-year price tag of in-state public colleges ranges from $70,000 to $130,000, according to Money analysis. For private institutions, that average rises to $120,000 to $250,000.
—By CNBC's Katie Kramer