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The 10 best universities in the US, according to Forbes 

Harvard Law school graduates wielded their gavels.
Pat Greenhouse | The Boston Globe | Getty Images
Harvard Law school graduates wielded their gavels.

Many publications release school rankings, but opinions vary on what makes an institution a top university.

The Forbes ranking of top colleges differs from many other college rankings in that it doesn't consider "input" statistics, such as SAT scores and acceptance rates. Instead, Forbes ranks schools according to a composite score made up of alumni salary (20 percent), student debt (20 percent), student experience (20 percent), alumni professional accomplishments (15 percent), academic success (12.5 percent) and graduation rate (12.5 percent).

Here are the 10 top colleges in the U.S., according to Forbes:

Duke University
Jim R. Bounds | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Duke University

10. Duke University

State: North Carolina

Cost: $71,764

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $47,055

9. Dartmouth College

State: New Hampshire

Cost: $71,827

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $45,867

8. Brown University

State: Rhode Island

Cost: $71,050

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $40,116

7. University of Pennsylvania

State: Pennsylvania

Cost: $71,715

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $43,856

6. California Institute of Technology

State: California

Cost: $68,901

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $36,632

Lockhart Hall at Princeton University
John Greim/LOOP IMAGES | Getty Images
Lockhart Hall at Princeton University

5. Princeton University

State: New Jersey

Cost: $66,150

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $44,128

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

State: Massachusetts

Cost: $67,430

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $41,674

3. Stanford University

State: California

Cost: $69,109

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $47,782

2. Yale University

State: Connecticut

Cost: $71,290

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $48,126

1. Harvard University

State: Massachusetts

Cost: $69,600

Type: Private not-for-profit

Average financial aid: $48,195

Harvard University
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Harvard University

Harvard topped the Forbes' list and five other Ivy League schools also cracked the top 10. Columbia and Cornell were the only Ivy League schools not to make it into this bracket, coming in 13th and 15th, respectively.

The remaining entries on the list include prestigious schools like Stanford and Duke, as well as two technology-focused institutions — MIT and CalTech.

All of the schools in the top 10 are private not-for-profit institutions. The University of California, Berkeley came in 14th this year, the highest ranking for a public university in the history of the Forbes list.

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