The 10 Best College Towns In America

cornell ithaca university

Photo: Courtesy Jason Barell

College towns overtook big metro areas on the American Institute for Economic Research‘s latest index of college destinations, thanks in part to the recent economic downturn.According to the AIER, college towns with populations under 250,000 are relatively recession-proof since they are home to a high proportion of students who consistently spend money. As a result, their economies tend to be more stable than those of larger cities.

And college towns fared particularly well in three categories on the index’s 12-part scale: arts and leisure, unemployment, and entrepreneurial activity. Overall, those categories paint a good picture of an area’s economic health.

Ithaca, N.Y. once again took the top spot on the list.

Meanwhile, major metropolitan areas like Boston, New York, Washington, and San Francisco were knocked off this year’s top 10 list, and Ann Arbor was the only city with a population of more than 250,000 that made the top 10.

#10 Morgantown, West Virginia

Population: 130,288

Student concentration: 205.7 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $586/month

Earning Potential: $34,412

Colleges: West Virginia University

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#9 Lawrence, Kansas

Population: 111,130

Student concentration: 255.5 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $536/month

Earning Potential: $31,250

Colleges: University of Kansas

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#8 Lafayette, Indiana

Population: 202,783

Student concentration: 210.2 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $793/month

Earning Potential: $30,282

Colleges: Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, Harrison College, Purdue University

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#7 Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

Population: 234,445

Student concentration: 227.4 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $713/month

Earning Potential: $34,859

Colleges: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Parkland College

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#6 Ann Arbor, Michigan

Population: 345,290

Student concentration: 195.5 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $882/month

Earning Potential: $38,032

Colleges: University of Michigan, Concordia University Ann Arbor

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#5 Corvallis, Oregon

Population: 85,575

Student concentration: 224.3 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $811/month

Earning Potential: $37,030

Colleges: Oregon State University

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#4 Iowa City, Iowa

Population: 152,918

Student concentration: 205.5 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $746/month

Earning Potential: $37,985

Colleges: University of Iowa

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#3 State College, Pennsylvania

Population: 154,127

Student concentration: 271.6 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $847/month

Earning Potential: $33,730

Colleges: Penn State University

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#2 Ames, Iowa

Population: 89,575

Student concentration: 285.4 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $740/month

Earning Potential: $35,426

Colleges: Iowa State University

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

#1 Ithaca, New York

Population: 101,620

Student concentration: 296.3 (per 1,000 people)

2-bedroom apartment: $950/month

Earning Potential: $33,632

Colleges: Cornell University, Ithaca College

Source: The American Institute for Economic Research

And a geographical look at the best college destinations in the U.S.

NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.