Blair Hall on the campus of Princeton University.
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These are the top 5 universities in America, according to US News & World Report

For more than three decades, U.S. News and World Report has ranked thousands of colleges and universities.

This year, U.S. News analyzed data from nearly 1,400 schools, including student outcomes, class size and spending per student and found that top-ranking schools all excel at graduating students on time.

"This year marks the 35th edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings," Kim Castro chief content officer at U.S. News tells CNBC Make It over email. "In that time, we've found the best institutions to be ones committed to academically and financially supporting their students through graduation."

Across the U.S., many colleges struggle to help students graduate on time. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just 41% of first-time full-time college students earn a bachelor's degree in four years, and 59% earn a bachelor's in six years. Among low-income students who receive Pell Grants, four and six-year graduation rates are even lower.

Taking longer than the standard four years to graduate can drive up the cost of attending college significantly, and many of these students are ultimately left with the debt of a college education without the degree.

However, the top ranked schools on U.S. News' list graduate the vast majority of students within six years, helping students minimize the cost — and maximize the benefits — of college. Here are the top five U.S. universities of 2020, according to U.S. News:

3. Columbia University (tie)

Columbia University
Getty Images

Overall score: 94
First-year retention rate: 99%
Graduation rate: 96%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 93%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 6 to 1
Acceptance rate: 6%

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tie)

MIT
Kevin Fleming | Corbis Documentary | Getty Images

Overall score: 94
First-year retention rate: 99%
Graduation rate: 94%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 92%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 3 to 1
Acceptance rate: 7%

3. Yale University (tie)

Yale University
Yana Paskova / Stringer (Getty Images)

Overall score: 94
First-year retention rate: 99%
Graduation rate: 97%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 94%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 6 to 1
Acceptance rate: 6%

2. Harvard University

Harvard University
DenisTangneyJr | iStock | Getty Images

Overall score: 96
First-year retention rate: 97%
Graduation rate: 98%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 97%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 6 to 1
Acceptance rate: 5%

1. Princeton University

Princeton University 
Photo: Princeton University, Office of Communications.

Overall score: 100
First-year retention rate: 98%
Graduation rate: 95%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 93%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 5 to 1
Acceptance rate: 5%

U.S. News ranks Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, as the No. 1 university in the country. Roughly 95% of Princeton students earn their degree in six years or less and 93% of low-income Princeton students do the same.

Princeton came in second on CNBC Make It's list of the U.S. colleges that pay off the most for keeping costs low for middle-income students and graduating high-earning alumni. The average net cost for Princeton students from families making between $48,001 and $75,000 is just $4,557 per year and graduates can expect earnings of roughly $141,300 10 years after graduation.

The only university not in the Ivy League to crack U.S. New's top five schools is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which boasts an unrivaled student-to-faculty ratio of just 3:1.

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Blair Hall on the campus of Princeton University.
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
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