The campus of Washington and Lee University, founded in 1749, sits adjacent to historic downtown Lexington, Va. (Photo by Melanie D.G. Kaplan)

Washington and Lee University provides the best college value in the country, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance 2016’s Top 300 Best College Values rankings released Friday.

Washington and Lee was trailed by Princeton and Harvard.

There are all sorts of lists evaluating schools, considering everything from published research to dumbest mascots.

[College rankings that matter: Hottest students, most weed, ugliest campus]

Kiplinger’s analysis aims to include not just academics but overall cost. The lists sort 1,200 U.S. colleges by Kiplinger’s standards of academic quality — looking at things such as admission rate, student-faculty ratio, how many students return for sophomore year — and affordability, including factors such as sticker price, debt levels and financial aid.

Washington and Lee, a small private liberal-arts school in Virginia known for its history (it was named for the nation’s first president and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee), has one of the largest endowments in the United States for a school of its size.

Kiplinger’s reported that Washington and Lee’s total cost per year was $59,202, the average annual need-based aid was $41,472 and average debt at graduation was $23,224. (Just pocket change?)

The University of North Carolina led the “best value” list for public universities, both for in-state and out-of-state students, for the 15th time in a row.

Here are the leaders from their Top 50 Overall Value list:

1.      Washington and Lee University
2.      Princeton University
3.      Harvard University
4.      Davidson College
5.      Swarthmore College
6.      Vanderbilt University
7.      Rice University
8.      Pomona College
9.      Yale University
10.   University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Read more:

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Washington and Lee’s president to step down

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