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The top 25 public colleges in the U.S. 2017

Forbes Logo By Anis Muslimin, Contributor of Forbes | Slide 1 of 26: <p>Take a tour through the best public schools in the country: first stop...<br></p>

Take a tour through the best public schools in the country

There’s been a changing of the guard in this year’s list.

After dominating the Forbes Top Public Schools list since 2014, the U.S. Military Academy has been dethroned as the top public school by its close rival, the U.S. Naval Academy. Known for its excellent academics, free-tuition, and rigorous military lifestyle, this is the first time the Naval Academy is appearing in at No. 1, edging out the Military Academy to No. 2.

This year, military institutes once again lead the Top Public schools list, with all five schools making the top 10. The military schools have made significant improvements this year, with the Coast Guard Academy climbing to No. 7 from 18 last year, and the Merchant Marine Academy making the list for the first time by going all the way up to No. 9 from 61. The Air Force Academy is the only military school to drop to No. 6 from third spot last year.

Unlike many other public schools, there is a catch to attending military schools. In exchange for a degree at no tuition cost, free room and board, books, and with the joy of little or no debt burden, cadets are required to serve for five years or more after graduation. Additionally, applicants to some of these schools must have a nomination from a member of Congress for admittance. The Coast Guard Academy, however, is based solely on the individuals performance, application, grades and letters of recommendation.

Coming in at No. 3 and improving from last year’s rankings is U.C. Berkeley, followed by University of Michigan-Ann Arbor at No. 4 and the University of Virginia at No. 5. The University of California-Los Angeles held steady at No. 8, maintaining its spot from last year, while College of William and Mary, the second oldest university in the nation, drops to No. 10.

A total of 20 coastal schools populate this list, six of which are UC schools. In fact, the UC’s also dominate the Forbes Best Value’s list; six of the nine UC schools are in the top 25.

Newcomers to this year’s top 25 public schools list are Merchant Marine Academy (No. 9), University of California Irvine (No. 22) and New College of Florida (No. 25).

Click through to see the top 25 public colleges in the U.S. 

More on MSN: The top 25 private colleges in the US

© Courtesy of U.S. COAST GUARD, Gregory Urquiaga of University of California, Davis, Â © Calamy stock ...

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