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Best big college towns in America

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Johntex // Wikicommons

Best big college towns in America

There’s no denying that campus life plays a significant part in the college experience — as it’s often the setting for the creation of lifelong memories — whether it be a school’s lush lawns, towering brick buildings, or monuments. But what many forget when choosing a home for the next four years is that the area surrounding the school grounds matters as well; it may be the place where friends go out to celebrate each other’s 21st birthdays or the surrounding town that offers escape when campus feels too claustrophobic.

Schools that boast a great campus environment and also happen to sit in an exceptional college town truly have the best of both worlds. Stacker enlisted the help of WalletHub to identify where these elusive schools exist. They examined 415 cities that are home to colleges and evaluated each area’s “wallet friendliness” (cost of living), “social environment” (demographics, entertainment options), and “academic and economic opportunities” (education quality, job opportunities, earning potential). Based on these factors, they gave each town an overall score out of 100, and ranked them from #50 all the way down to the crowning champion at the #1 spot. For this story, we focused exclusively on large cities with populations of more than 300,000.

From the Golden State to the Eastern seaboard, see if your college town is one of America’s best this year.

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Mglsndst1993 // Wikicommons

#50. Corpus Christi, TX

Total score: 44.25

Wallet-friendliness rank: #72

Social environment rank: #294

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #286

Sample universities: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi; Del Mar College; Southern Careers Institute

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Veronidae // Wikicommons

#49. Arlington, TX

Total score: 44.32

Wallet-friendliness rank: #148

Social environment rank: #245

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #293

Sample universities: The University of Texas at Arlington; Arlington Baptist University

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Edmund Garman // Flickr

#48. Honolulu, HI

Total score: 44.65

Wallet-friendliness rank: #372

Social environment rank: #10

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #302

Sample universities: The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; Hawaiʻi Pacific University; Chaminade University of Honolulu

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Ron Reiring // Flickr

#47. El Paso, TX

Total score: 44.72

Wallet-friendliness rank: #20

Social environment rank: #161

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #387

Sample universities: The University of Texas at El Paso; Southwest University at El Paso; El Paso Community College

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PDH // Wikicommons

#46. Milwaukee, WI

Total score: 45.20

Wallet-friendliness rank: #206

Social environment rank: #110

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #315

Sample universities: Marquette University; The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

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Staff Sgt. Tim Jenkins // Wikicommons

#45. Fort Worth, TX

Total score: 45.31

Wallet-friendliness rank: #231

Social environment rank: #156

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #232

Sample universities: Texas Christian University; Texas Wesleyan University; Tarrant County College

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Ron Reiring // Flickr

#44. Anaheim, CA

Total score: 45.48

Wallet-friendliness rank: #344

Social environment rank: #98

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #98

Sample universities: Anaheim University; Southern California Institute of Technology

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Mr.TinDC // Flickr

#43. Albuquerque, NM

Total score: 45.57

Wallet-friendliness rank: #126

Social environment rank: #130

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #326

Sample universities: The University of New Mexico; Central New Mexico Community College; Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

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Urbanative // Wikicommons

#42. Oklahoma City, OK

Total score: 45.59

Wallet-friendliness rank: #136

Social environment rank: #190

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #280

Sample universities: Oklahoma State University–Oklahoma City; Oklahoma City University; Oklahoma City Community College

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Daderot // Wikicommons

#41. San Jose, CA

Total score: 45.70

Wallet-friendliness rank: #386

Social environment rank: #43

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #87

Sample universities: San José State University; San Jose City College; Evergreen Valley College

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Robbie Shade // Wikicommons

#40. Boston, MA

Total score: 46.05

Wallet-friendliness rank: #395

Social environment rank: #19

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #126

Sample universities: Northeastern University; Boston University; Berklee College of Music; Emerson College

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Iracaz // Wikicommons

#39. Baltimore, MD

Total score: 46.10

Wallet-friendliness rank: #273

Social environment rank: #123

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #194

Sample universities: Johns Hopkins University; The University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Loyola University Maryland

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Wikicommons

#38. Aurora, CO

Total score: 46.12

Wallet-friendliness rank: #267

Social environment rank: #341

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #45

Sample universities: The Community College of Aurora; The University of Colorado School of Medicine

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Antrell Williams // Flickr

#37. New Orleans, LA

Total score: 46.36

Wallet-friendliness rank: #252

Social environment rank: #26

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #347

Sample universities: Tulane University; Loyola University New Orleans; The University of New Orleans

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Navin75 // Wikicommons

#36. Lexington-Fayette, KY

Total score: 46.41

Wallet-friendliness rank: #156

Social environment rank: #149

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #256

Sample universities: The University of Kentucky; Transylvania University; Bluegrass Community and Technical College

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Daderot // Wikicommons

#35. Washington, D.C.

Total score: 46.48

Wallet-friendliness rank: #399

Social environment rank: #17

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #105

Sample universities: Georgetown University; The George Washington University; The American University

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UserB // Wikicommons

#34. Raleigh, NC

Total score: 46.67

Wallet-friendliness rank: #226

Social environment rank: #115

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #245

Sample universities: North Carolina State University; William Peace University; Meredith College

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Postoak // Wikicommons

#33. Colorado Springs, CO

Total score: 47.20

Wallet-friendliness rank: #140

Social environment rank: #105

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #281

Sample universities: United States Air Force Academy; Colorado College; University of Colorado Colorado Springs

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WestCoastivieS // Wikicommons

#32. Philadelphia, PA

Total score: 47.34

Wallet-friendliness rank: #329

Social environment rank: #29

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #210

Sample universities: University of Pennsylvania; Temple University; Drexel University

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eflon // Wikicommons

#31. Houston, TX

Total score: 47.41

Wallet-friendliness rank: #67

Social environment rank: #50

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #355

Sample universities: Rice University; The University of Houston; Texas Southern University

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DPPed // Wikicommons

#30. Phoenix, AZ

Total score: 47.47

Wallet-friendliness rank: #145

Social environment rank: #94

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #275

Sample universities: Grand Canyon University; Phoenix College; South Mountain Community College

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Doc Searls // Flickr

#29. New York, NY

Total score: 47.48

Wallet-friendliness rank: #408

Social environment rank: #4

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #123

Sample universities: New York University; Columbia University; Fordham University; CUNY; St. John's University

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tpsdave // Wikicommons

#28. Indianapolis, IN

Total score: 47.51

Wallet-friendliness rank: #182

Social environment rank: #113

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #231

Sample universities: Butler University; Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis; The University of Indianapolis

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Dieckhmj // Wikicommons

#27. Nashville, TN

Total score: 47.79

Wallet-friendliness rank: #264

Social environment rank: #77

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #174

Sample universities: Vanderbilt University; Belmont University; Lipscomb University

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Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office // Flickr

#26. Louisville, KY

Total score: 48.02

Wallet-friendliness rank: #146

Social environment rank: #106

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #238

Sample universities: University of Louisville; Bellarmine University; Spalding University

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Bluejayscholar // Wikicommons

#25. Omaha, NE

Total score: 48.82

Wallet-friendliness rank: #124

Social environment rank: #100

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #222

Sample universities: Creighton University; The University of Nebraska Omaha; College of Saint Mary

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Digidreamgrafix // Wikicommons

#24. Charlotte, NC

Total score: 48.91

Wallet-friendliness rank: #186

Social environment rank: #56

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #229

Sample universities: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Queens University of Charlotte; Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte

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Quintin Soloviev // Wikicommons

#23. Sacramento, CA

Total score: 48.95

Wallet-friendliness rank: #230

Social environment rank: #22

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #279

Sample universities: California State University, Sacramento; Sacramento City College; American River College

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Robertbody // Wikicommons

#22. Mesa, AZ

Total score: 49.04

Wallet-friendliness rank: #169

Social environment rank: #229

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #67

Sample universities: Mesa Community College; Arizona State University Polytechnic

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Paula R. Lively // Flickr

#21. Columbus, OH

Total score: 49.35

Wallet-friendliness rank: #113

Social environment rank: #65

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #237

Sample universities: The Ohio State University; Columbus State Community College; Columbus College of Art & Design

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Pixabay

#20. Kansas City, MO

Total score: 49.62

Wallet-friendliness rank: #154

Social environment rank: #191

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #112

Sample universities: University of Missouri - Kansas City; Rockhurst University; The Kansas City Art Institute

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Jason DeRusha // Wikicommons

#19. Minneapolis, MN

Total score: 49.81

Wallet-friendliness rank: #242

Social environment rank: #38

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #187

Sample universities: The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Augsburg University

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Summum // Wikicommons

#18. Long Beach, CA

Total score: 49.92

Wallet-friendliness rank: #292

Social environment rank: #73

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #83

Sample universities: California State University, Long Beach; Long Beach City College; Pacific Coast University

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Jeffrey Beall // Wikicommons

#17. Dallas, TX

Total score: 50.27

Wallet-friendliness rank: #233

Social environment rank: #52

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #143

Sample universities: Southern Methodist University; The University of North Texas at Dallas; Dallas Baptist University

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Stuart Seeger // Flickr

#16. San Antonio, TX

Total score: 50.59

Wallet-friendliness rank: #53

Social environment rank: #55

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #243

Sample universities: The University of Texas at San Antonio; The University of the Incarnate Word; Trinity University

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Dllu / Wiki Commons

#15. Pittsburgh, PA

Total score: 50.74

Wallet-friendliness rank: #177

Social environment rank: #20

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #264

Sample universities: Carnegie Mellon University; The University of Pittsburgh; Duquesne University

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Creative Commons/ Max Pixel

#14. Denver, CO

Total score: 51.06

Wallet-friendliness rank: #319

Social environment rank: #13

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #145

Sample universities: The University of Denver; The University of Colorado Denver; Regis University

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Howcheng / Wikimedia Commons

#13. Tucson, AZ

Total score: 51.50

Wallet-friendliness rank: #77

Social environment rank: #51

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #198

Sample universities: The University of Arizona; Pima Community College; Southwest University of Visual Arts

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Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons

#12. St. Louis, MO

Total score: 51.60

Wallet-friendliness rank: #229

Social environment rank: #31

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #144

Sample universities: Washington University in St. Louis; Saint Louis University; St. Louis Community College

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Public Domain Pictures

#11. San Francisco, CA

Total score: 51.70

Wallet-friendliness rank: #393

Social environment rank: #2

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #68

Sample universities: San Francisco State University; The University of California, San Francisco; The University of San Francisco

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Rick Seidel // Wikicommons

#10. Chicago, IL

Total score: 51.96

Wallet-friendliness rank: #302

Social environment rank: #7

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #200

Sample universities: The University of Chicago; Loyola University Chicago; Northwestern University

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James Willamor / Flickr Commons

#9. Miami, FL

Total score: 52.49

Wallet-friendliness rank: #163

Social environment rank: #16

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #236

Sample universities: The University of Miami; Florida International University; Miami Dade College

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Public Domain

#8. Atlanta, GA

Total score: 52.71

Wallet-friendliness rank: #266

Social environment rank: #8

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #201

Sample universities: Emory University; The Georgia Institute of Technology; Spelman College

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12019/Pixabay

#7. Los Angeles, CA

Total score: 52.98

Wallet-friendliness rank: #345

Social environment rank: #12

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #69

Sample universities: The University of California, Los Angeles; The University of Southern California; Occidental College

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Jeff Gunn / Flickr Commons

#6. Portland, OR

Total score: 53.09

Wallet-friendliness rank: #315

Social environment rank: #9

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #127

Sample universities: Reed College; Portland State University; Concordia University-Portland

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Bryce Edwards/ Flickr Commons

#5. Seattle, WA

Total score: 53.20

Wallet-friendliness rank: #376

Social environment rank: #6

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #55

Sample universities: The University of Washington; Seattle University; Seattle Central College

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Chad McDonald / Flickr Commons

#4. San Diego, CA

Total score: 54.55

Wallet-friendliness rank: #341

Social environment rank: #1

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #103

Sample universities: The University of California, San Diego; San Diego State University; The University of San Diego

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Antoine Gady / Flickr Commons

#3. Tampa, FL

Total score: 54.70

Wallet-friendliness rank: #137

Social environment rank: #18

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #163

Sample universities: The University of South Florida; The University of Tampa; Hillsborough Community College

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Moyan Brenn from Anzio, Italy / Wikimedia Commons

#2. Las Vegas, NV

Total score: 55.81

Wallet-friendliness rank: #100

Social environment rank: #3

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #235

Sample universities: The University of Nevada, Las Vegas; The College of Southern Nevada

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Daderot // Wikicommons

#1. Austin, TX

Total score: 55.85

Wallet-friendliness rank: #190

Social environment rank: #11

Academic & economic opportunities rank: #125

Sample universities: The University of Texas at Austin; St. Edward's University; Huston–Tillotson University

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