Among all public and private institutions in the U.S., Forbes has ranked the University of Arizona as one of the nation's best.

In the ranked Top Colleges list of 650 ranked colleges and universities, the UA placed in the top third at 211.

Four-year graduation rates, the amount debt students took on to earn their degrees and the likelihood of strong job placement after college were among the measures given consideration in ranking the institutions.

"At the University of Arizona, we recognize that our students are living in a rapidly changing world, one that more readily values knowledge creation, innovation and cross cultural awareness and understanding," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart.

"As an institution, we strive to ensure that students are deeply engaged – in the classroom and in the community – because such engagement is crucial not only for immediate academic success, but also for future prosperity," Hart said.

Forbes partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), relying on the U.S. Department of Education data, for the analysis.

In defining the nation's Top Colleges, Forbes and CCAP researchers were less concerned with college selectivity as a marker of institutional success and more attentive to student satisfaction, graduation rates, post-graduate success and affordability, among other measures.

"College has become one of the biggest financial decisions students and their families make. They deserve all the information incoming students can get on the questions that directly concern them,” Forbes noted in a statement when the rankings were released.

"What sets our calculation of 650 colleges and universities apart from other rankings is our firm belief in 'output' over 'input.' We’re not all that interested in what gets a student into college, like our peers who focus heavily on selectivity metrics, such as high school class rank and SAT scores. Our sights are set directly on ROI: What are students getting out of college."

In the area of affordability, the UA maintains one of the lowest tuition rates for institutions of its rank and type. For the 2012-2013 academic year, the University recommended no base tuition increase for all continuing undergraduate resident students.

"The University of Arizona has long been invested in improving affordability and expanding access to higher education, especially for Arizona residents," Hart said.

For example, the Arizona Assurance program provides academic, financial and social support for low-income Arizona residents, expanding access to higher education while also reducing student debt.

Also, the University maintains a number of offices and programs to ensure that undergraduate and graduate students are successful beyond their time at the University.

The UA's Career Services and Alumni Association are among those at the UA working not only with current students but also alumni, aiding them with job placement and also connecting them to academic and professional networks.

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