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Colleges with the best bang for your buck

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The schools that pay you back

There's a lot to consider when deciding on a college, from the school's academic stature to the cafeteria food. And now, more than ever, parents and students are putting greater weight on finding a school they feel is worth the steep tuition.

Given the high cost of college and debt burden for many after graduation, schools that pay back on that investment with hefty student aid, a strong alumni network and promising post-grad career placement are worth their weight in gold.

"It is especially important for parents and students to plan realistically and choose wisely, especially if student loans are paying for the majority of these costs," said Mike Salmon, a financial advisor at Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo in Orlando, Florida. "Students need to understand what they are signing up for and how difficult it might be to support the loan payment if the degree doesn't lead to an above-average-paying career."

To that end, the Princeton Review compiled a list of the top colleges with the greatest return on investment. To calculate each school's ROI, the Princeton Review factored in academics, cost, financial aid and graduation rates among other considerations as well as PayScale.com data on starting and mid-career salaries of alumni.

So when choosing and financing a college education, consider the schools with the greatest return. Here are the top five.

— Posted by CNBC's Jessica Dickler

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