Agree or disagree? Check out the latest list of the 100 best college towns

Higher ed leaders can use the list to encourage high school seniors and others prospective students to visit their campus.

Let the debate, disagreements and direct marketing begin: The latest list of the 100 best college towns from WalletHub is out. The personal finance website suggests that higher ed leaders can leverage the list to encourage high school seniors and other prospective students to visit their campus.

College and university recruiters could also use these rankings to make the case that students will find a fun social environment, a reasonable cost of living, and ample academic and work opportunities. The off-campus atmosphere is particularly important as a source of cultural, social and religious support for underrepresented students, says Crystal Chambers, a professor of educational leadership in the College of Education at East Carolina University.

“Life off-campus is important to students both as part of their general social development as global citizens, and also as a retreat away from campus,” Chambers told WalletHub. “The latter can be helpful, particularly for those students who feel multiply minoritized.”

Weather was not an official factor but four cities in Florida are in the top 10 and three Southern California cities made the top 25.

Considering that student living expenses can reach over $30,000 for a 12-month period, “wallet friendliness” is at the top of the 32 factors that determined WalletHub’s best college towns. Housing, tuition, loan debt, and the costs of fitness club memberships, movie tickets, pizza and burgers all figured into the “wallet friendliness” score.

The vibrancy of each city’s social environment was measured by gender balance, students per capita, share of single people and 18- to 35-year-olds, and percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Nightlife options, an NCAA Division 1 sports team, and the number of cafes, breweries and food trucks also earned more points in the rankings.

More from UB: Warning—Why incoming college students don’t feel ready for college and career decisions

Finally, the quality of higher education, earnings potential for college graduates, entrepreneurial activity, and rate of “brain drain” were assessed in evaluating the academic and economic opportunities in each metro area. The median income for part-time jobs, the availability of part-time jobs and the unemployment rate were also factors.

Here are the top 30:

  1. Austin, TX
  2. Ann Arbor, MI
  3. Orlando, FL
  4. Gainesville, FL
  5. Tampa, FL
  6. Rexburg, ID
  7. Provo, UT
  8. Scottsdale, AZ
  9. Miami, FL
  10. Raleigh, NC
  11. Princeton, NJ
  12. Orem, UT
  13. Irvine, CA
  14. Atlanta, GA
  15. College Station, TX
  16. Charlottesville, VA
  17. Salt Lake City, UT
  18. Seattle, WA
  19. Ithaca, NY
  20. Pittsburgh, PA
  21. Cary, NC
  22. San Diego, CA
  23. Colorado Springs, CO
  24. Santa Barbara, CA
  25. Athens, GA
  26. St. Louis, MO
  27. Cambridge, MA
  28. Columbus, OH
  29. Reno, NV
  30. Oxford, OH

Here’s where to find out if your college or university made the list.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

Most Popular