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(RNN) - Attending college is one of the greatest financial commitments someone can make.
The rising cost of tuition drains students' wallets in the blink of an eye, causing them to make cutbacks and live on a shoestring budget.
Ever since the days of Napster and Limewire, the illegal downloading music and movies has been a fast fix for financial woes, and a new study has made it clear that software "pirates" still have a clear presence on some of the country's top universities.
More complex than peer-to-peer file sharing, today's college crowd is using a file sharing method call "BitTorrent." It's a method that still allows student to download movies and music. It's also an easy way for students to get expensive software that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars.
BitTorrent's success is partly because it can transfer large files quickly and efficiently. Its 150 million active users can download virtually anything through an clever downloading method.
When users downloaded content from Napster or LimeWire, they got their files from a single source. BitTorrent distributes large files to multiple sources, which gives users the ability to simultaneously download from multiple servers.
The technique is particularly popular with the tech-savvy college crowd, and although it can be used to lawfully share files, it's largely used for illegal purposes.
The U.S. government recognized the BitTorrent trend in 2010 when they threatened to cut federal funding from colleges and universities that did not discipline students who used file sharing, including BitTorrent.
Schools everywhere responded by installing network software that prevented file sharing; however, some software pirates still fall through the cracks.
Two years later, data from web monitoring site ScanEye and BitTorrent news site TorrentFreak have identified 50 schools with the most students using BitTorrent.
ScanEye gathered the data by tracking numerical labels assigned to every computer, commonly known as an IP address.
Research released Saturday showed students at Rutgers University used BitTorrent the most, with 1,809 IP addresses accessing BitTorrent from the school's internet service since November 2011.
Rutgers ran away with the top spot, dwarfing second place New York University with 986 IP addresses.
Rounding out the top five were the University of Houston (795), University of Southern California (776) and Texas A&M University (768).
ScanEye and TorrentFreak also tracked the type of files Rutgers students were downloading. The most common downloads were entertainment files like the movies Fast Five, Cars 2 and Puss in Boots. The most popular video game was The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and the most downloaded album was The Dreamer, The Believer by hip-hop artist Common.
Cult classic films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were also popular dorm room downloads.
But it wasn't all fun and games.
Microsoft Office for Mac was another frequent download. Programs like Microsoft Word and Excel have become essential tools for college students, and BitTorrent helps them avoid paying $120 directly to Microsoft.
Although many of top Torrent-using schools were large universities, some were smaller schools. Three smaller institutions on the list were Sonoma State University (No. 24), Marquette University (No. 34) and Grambling State University (No. 35).
The full top 50 list is as follows:
Universities ranked by BitTorrent usage
New York University
University Of Houston
University of Southern California
Texas A&M University
The George Washington University
University of Minnesota
State University of New York at Buffalo
University of Maryland
Tennessee State University
Michigan State University
Wayne State University
North Carolina Central University
University of California, San Diego
Old Dominion University
Ohio State University
University of Michigan
Case Western Reserve University
University of Texas at San Antonio
Sonoma State University
The Pennsylvania State University
University of Colorado
Virginia State University
Grambling State University
University of California at Berkeley
University of Arizona
University of Washington
University of Illinois
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Montclair State University
University of Wisconsin Madison
University of Utah
University of Delaware
University of Pennsylvania
University of Hawaii
State University of New York at Stony Brook
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