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Top 20 Best College Towns In America In 2017

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(Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Wondering where you, as a freshman student, should belong in the fall of 2017? As summer is coming to an end, it is insightful for you to know whether your college town is part of this exclusive list.

If you — or your parents — are wondering what to expect, all of you can look to a ranking of college towns in Americas from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).

AIER compiled its list using nine economic, demographic, and quality-of-life factors. It defines college towns as those which are home to a college or university and have fewer than 250,000 residents.

Aside from the overall ranking, AIER scored each city on nine metrics including rent, earnings, and bars and restaurants. Below, we’ve highlighted the metric for which each city scored highest.

Take your time, get a cup of coffee, and scroll down to find out the 20 best college towns.


 20. Bellingham, Washington-home of Western Washington University

Bellingham, Washington

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Metro area population: 208,832
College student population in the metro area: 24,926
No. 4 in arts and entertainment


19. La Crosse, Wisconsin — home of the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse

La Crosse, Wisconsin

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Metro area population: 136,824
College student population in the metro area: 16,081
No. 1 in youth unemployment


18. Jacksonville, North Carolina — home of the University of Mount Olive

Jacksonville, North Carolina

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Metro area population: 186,684
College student population in the metro area: 15,297
No. 3 in rent


17. Blacksburg, Virginia — home of Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech)

Blacksburg, Virginia

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Metro area population: 180,649
College student population in the metro area: 41,438
No. 3 in bars and restaurants


16. Rochester, Minnesota — home of the University of Minnesota at Rochester

Rochester, Minnesota

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Metro area population: 170,519
College student population in the metro area: 11,363
No. 4 in rent


15. State College, Pennsylvania — home of Pennsylvania State University

State College, Pennsylvania

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Metro area population: 159,341
College student population in the metro area: 39,577
No. 5 in bars and restaurants

14. Athens, Georgia — home of the University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

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Metro area population: 159,341
College student population in the metro area: 39,577
No. 5 in bars and restaurants


13. Fargo, North Dakota — home of North Dakota State University

Fargo, North Dakota

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Metro area population: 167,166
College student population in the metro area: 21,346
No. 1 in rent


12. Lafayette, Indiana — the metropolitan area is home to Purdue University

Lafayette, Indiana

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Metro area population: 212,704
College student population in the metro area: 44,252
No. 2 in innovation


11. Charlottesville, Virginia — home of the University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

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Metro area population: 227,179
College student population in the metro area: 26,327
No. 3 in youth unemployment


10. Bloomington, Illinois — home of Illinois State University

Bloomington, Illinois

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Metro area population: 189,628
College student population in the metro area: 25,689
No. 2 in arts and entertainment


9. Columbia, Missouri — home of the University of Missouri

Columbia, Missouri

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Metro area population: 172,738
College student population in the metro area: 32,287
No. 4 in labor force


8. Manhattan, Kansas — home of Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

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Metro area population: 98,643

College student population in the metro area: 17,537

No. 5 in labor force


7. College Station, Texas — home of Texas A&M University

College Station

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Metro area population: 242,453
College student population in the metro area: 58,018
No. 1 in bars and restaurants


6. Bloomington, Indiana — home of Indiana University at Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana

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Metro area population: 163,726
College student population in the metro area: 41,211
No. 2 bars and restaurants


5. Iowa City, Iowa — home of the University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

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Metro area population: 164,043
College student population in the metro area: 33,358
No. 3 in college educated


4. Ithaca, New York — home of Cornell University and Ithaca College

Ithaca, New York

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Metro area population: 104,592
College student population in the metro area: 28,164
No. 2 in college educated


3. Flagstaff, Arizona — home of Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, Arizona

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Metro area population: 138,039
College student population in the metro area: 24,832
No. 1 in diversity


2. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois — home of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

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Metro area population: 207,584
College student population in the metro area: 47,895
No. 1 in city access


1. Boulder, Colorado — home of the University of Colorado-Boulder

Boulder, Colorado

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Metro area population: 199,129
College student population in the metro area: 31,958
No. 1 in innovation

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