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Why Tech is the nation's best buy

Step aside, Ivy League: Prestige is one thing, but when it comes to balancing a paycheck and student loans, the Georgia Institute of Technology has you beat. SmartMoney ranked Georgia Tech the country’s "Best Value," analyzing starting salaries, paychecks three years after finishing school, and average total tuition cost to determine where graduates get the most bang for their tuition bucks.

The blog NerdWallet also crunched numbers and confirmed SmartMoney’s analysis, reporting that of ten schools whose graduates earn top salaries, Tech is the only public school.

The median annual salary for recent Tech graduates is $59,000, compared with $50,700 for Harvard grads and $48,900 for Yalies, while the average annual tuition for out-of-state students at Tech is just $26,000, compared with $44,000 at the other top-earning schools. For Georgia residents, tuition is less than $8,000, and most Tech students qualify for HOPE.

(Another Georgia school, UGA, also made the SmartMoney top value ranks, coming in at number four nationally.)

Although Georgia Tech is mainly known for its engineering programs, students from other departments find success as well. "Tech is a really good school even if you’re not a technology or engineering major," says An Do, a fourth-year psychology major at Tech. She believes the accessible career centers, career fairs, and visiting professors from organizations like the CDC and Marcus Autism Center add to its overall value.

"Regardless of what your major is, the different departments really help you get what you need," she says.