SmartAsset’s third-annual study of in-state colleges and universities ranked New Jersey as the fifth-best provider of higher education, in a tie with North Carolina.

Each state was awarded a grade determined by a number of factors at the four-year public colleges and universities. The metrics included the undergraduate graduation rate, average net price, 20-year return on investment and student-faculty ratio.

New Jersey received an A- to land five spots ahead of New York and more than 20 spots above Pennsylvania. The only states ahead of the Garden State are Virginia (1), California (2), Delaware (3) and Iowa (4).

In 2015, Jersey was ranked 7th with a B+, and last year, an A- grade earned it a spot in a three-way tie for 4th with Iowa and North Carolina.

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