Think you know the best college in the U.S. when it comes to the earnings power of graduates? If you're thinking Harvard, Yale or Brown, you're wrong.

A new Brookings Institution report reveals the California Institute of Technology, Colgate University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are the top three higher learning institutions where alumni are making the top bucks years after graduation. Other top schools on the list are:

    Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

    Carleton College

    Washington and Lee University

    SUNY Maritime Academy

    Clarkson University

    Manhattan College

    Stanford University

The ranking measures how well graduates do in three financial areas: mid-career earnings, earnings power and student loan repayment. The five specific factors that play a key role in how well graduates do after college are their curriculm value, alumni skills, STEM orientation, completion rates and student aid.

"The Ivy League does very well by their students and the students come out earning fantastically high salaries," stated Jonathan Rothwell, a fellow in Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program and a co-author of the report. "At the same time, they come in with extremely high test scores from extremely affluent families. So you'd expect them to do well."

According to the report, "Beyond College Rankings," a Cal Tech alumnus, with 10 years of work experience, is making 49 percent more money in salary than peers who graduated from other colleges. The average Cal Tech graduate is earning $126,200 each year. Colgate grads are earning more than $126,600 annually.

Here is the top 10 list when it comes to occupational earnings power:

    Worcester Polytechnic Institute

    Colorado School of Mines

    Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

    California Institute of Technology

    Lawrence Technological University

    Harvey Mudd College

    Wentworth Institute of Technology

    Milwaukee School of Engineering

    Missouri University of Science and Technology

    New Jersey Institute of Technology

According to the report, a college's curriculum, as well as its majors and what it provides in specific skills all play into alumni earnings potential.

"The findings here relating various quality measures to economic success are consistent with a growing body of evidence showing that policies and programs offered by colleges have important effects on the economic lives of students and surrounding communities," stated the report's summary. "Specifically, financial aid and other less precisely measured student support programs can dramatically boost graduation rates and thus future student success."

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