More and more students (and parents) are making their college decisions based on realities as opposed to imagery--banking on the sometimes elusive Return on Investment metric.

With that in mind, CollegeVine, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based college guidance company, recently identified “underrated” colleges across the country, by studying costs, financial aid awards, and such factors as initial post-graduation job placement and salaries. San Jose State University (with its proximity to tech jobs in Silicon Valley) was #1, followed by University of Houston, and SUNY Binghamton at #3.

While Binghamton has enjoyed a great educational reputation for years, its recent performance in providing great career opportunities for young graduates has elevated its status.

Two other New York State colleges, Fordham and City College of New York, showed up in the study's top 10. Three others (Babson, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Wellesley) are located in nearby Massachusetts and act as a feeder for the red-hot job market in Boston.