CASTINE, Maine — Maine Maritime Academy is the best public college for your buck in the nation and the eighth-best school overall, according to a recent MONEY magazine ranking.

“We are pleased that the academy ranks so high in educational quality, affordability and positive outcomes for our graduates,” MMA President William Brennan said Tuesday in a news release. “We strive to deliver in all three of those areas, all of which have lasting positive benefits throughout our graduates’ lives and careers.”

In compiling the list, MONEY looked at the nation’s 1,500 four-year colleges and universities, cutting those that had a graduation rate below the median. It also screened out schools with “speculative” bond ratings and those flagged by the U.S. Department of Education as having financial problems. That left 736 schools.

Those schools were ranked based on their performance in areas ranging from six-year graduation rate, price of degree, graduation debt load, pay level for graduates and 17 other factors.

Maine Maritime graduates’ high starting salaries and low degree costs gave it a higher ranking than much larger public schools, including University of California-Berkeley and the University of Virginia, in spite of MMA’s lower graduation rate of 74 percent.

The coastal school, with about 975 students in 18 programs, also appeared in the No. 1 spot on MONEY’s best public colleges list in August 2014.

More information on the rankings methodology is available at

Several Maine schools made MONEY’s list of best liberal arts schools, with Bowdoin College finishing 12th, Colby College 17th and Bates College 26th.

In all, seven Maine schools — MMA (8), Bowdoin (56), Colby (85), Bates (109), College of the Atlantic (237), the University of Maine (473) and the University of New England (708) — appear in MONEY’s overall rankings.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.