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Every summer, high school students tour prospective colleges, deciding which institution will best set them up to succeed. And with the national student loan debt totalling $1.6 trillion, there’s a lot on the line when it comes to deciding which college to attend.

To help find out which college offers more bang for the buck, CNBC’s Make It personal finance site compiled a list of the top 50 institutions that pay off the most.

Two Massachusetts institutions made the top 10.

To start, CNBC’s Make It determined the net cost of college for families making between $48,001 and $75,000 — an income bracket established by the Department of Education that includes the median US household income: $61,372.

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The net cost was calculated by “subtracting federal, state, local and institutional grants and scholarships from the sticker price for first-time, full-time (and, at public universities, in-state) undergraduates based on data provided by the U.S. Department of Education,” according to CNBC’s Make It.

Then, using salary data, they divided the net cost by graduates’ expected annual earnings.

Harvard University ranked fifth on the list, with an average $6,577 net cost and average mid-career salary of $107,600.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked eighth, with an average net cost of $8,633 and average mid career salary of $117,000.

Other New England institutions made it in the top 20. Yale University ranked sixth, Dartmouth College 13th, Olin College of Engineering ranked 14th, Williams College ranked 16th, Bowdoin College ranked 18th, and Brown University ranked 2oth.


Abbi Matheson can be reached at abbi.matheson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AbbiMatheson