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These are the top 5 liberal arts colleges in America, according to US News & World Report

You don't have to go to an Ivy League university or a giant flagship state school to get a great college education.

When U.S. News and World Report analyzed data from nearly 1,400 schools they found that many liberal arts colleges — schools that focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education and award at least 50% of their degrees in the arts and sciences — provide students with a top-notch education.

U.S. News considered factors like student outcomes, class size and spending per student to rank the best liberal arts colleges in the U.S. 

Five schools in particular stood out. Each boasts a high six-year graduation rate and low student-to-faculty ratio, giving students the opportunity to build strong bonds with their professors. Here are the top five American liberal arts colleges of 2020, according to U.S. News:

5. Pomona College

Pomona College
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Overall score: 92
First-year retention rate: 97%
Graduation rate: 94%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 91%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 8 to 1
Acceptance rate: 8%

3. Swarthmore College (tie)

Swarthmore College
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Overall score: 93
First-year retention rate: 98%
Graduation rate: 94%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 98%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 8 to 1
Acceptance rate: 9%

3. Wellesley College (tie)

Wellesley College
Source: Wellesley College | Facebook

Overall score: 93
First-year retention rate: 96%
Graduation rate: 92%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 88%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 8 to 1
Acceptance rate: 20%

2. Amherst College

Amherst College
Source: Amherst College

Overall score: 96
First-year retention rate: 97%
Graduation rate: 93%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 91%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 7 to 1
Acceptance rate: 13%

1. Williams College

Williams College
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Overall score: 100
First-year retention rate: 98%
Graduation rate: 95%
Graduation rate among students receiving Pell Grants: 96%
Student-to-faculty ratio: 7 to 1
Acceptance rate: 13%

Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, comes in first on U.S. News' ranking of liberal arts colleges. The school enrolls just 2,020 undergraduate students and requires that all students take at least two writing-intensive courses as well several courses in the arts and humanities, social sciences, and science and mathematics.

While private liberal arts colleges are often perceived as prohibitively expensive for many students, the top-ranking schools on U.S. News' list, like Williams, are able to keep net-costs low for students. For this reason, Williams came in 16th on CNBC Make It's list of the private U.S. colleges that pay off the most. The average net cost for Williams students from families making between $48,001 and $75,000 is $10,448 per year.

U.S. News reports that 24% of Williams students graduate with debt and the average debt total is $14,489 at graduation.

Wellesley College tied for third place on U.S. News' overall ranking of liberal arts colleges and came in second place for graduating students with the least student debt. About 27% of Wellesley students graduate with an average debt total of $10,000.

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