Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 16.

Niche.com has released its rankings of each state's top public universities in America -- the backbone of American higher education. The list includes some land grant schools (that grew out of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890), some surprise upset wins over sister state schools, and a whole lot of A+ grades for athletics. Niche.com calculated each school's rankings carefully, with weighted factors that account for the number of awards received by faculty or local crime rates, to give two examples, which offer the reader a holistic picture of what these top schools are really like. Other important factors like "value" are represented by average net cost after financial aid, grants, and scholarship. The overall score aggregates grades for things like academics, diversity, the party scene, the professoriate, safety, student life, and other sub categories. Don't see a particular state listed? Niche.com couldn't compile enough data for a few spots, notably Alaska, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. Are you a parent researching schools? Value and safety might make a huge difference for you. Are you a prospective student eager to apply? Some of the listings very usefully include a link directly to the admissions application.