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Payscale’s 2018 ROI Survey Finds the Colleges That Actually Pay Off

25 colleges and universities where a degree = big dollars.

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You might have heard the term ROI (Return on Investment) in a business class or if you’ve ever thought about doing a startup, but it’s the first thing that came to mind when you chose your college.

Newly commissioned second lieutenants celebrate at the end of the Air Force Academy’s Class of 2011 graduation ceremony May 25, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Payscale thinks about it in relation to higher education, though, and they put together and annual ROI survey that gets into all the numbers.

Taking the full cost of a four-year education (including tuition and fees, housing, books and supplies) and subtracting that from the total earned in a 20-year period (the median salary for a bachelor’s degree) by graduates is the basic formula. Average student loan debt and average years to graduate are also factored in, as well as that pesky in-state/out-of-state thing. (But you know, math, meh.)

As the Payscale team writes in their introduction:

No matter how you look at it, college is an investment — both of time and money. The benefit to this particular investment is that there are returns far beyond the obvious monetary ones. However, the financial aspects of evaluating college return on investment cannot be ignored. And some schools are simply doing a better job of setting their alumni up for success in the job market.

So, which schools deliver the best ROI? Here’s the top 25:

Rank
School Name

20 Year Net ROI

 

Total 4 Year Cost

Graduation Rate

Typical Years to Graduate

Average Loan Amount

1 $1,094,000 $34,900 76% 4 $20,000
2 $1,041,000 $0 86% 4 N/A
3 $1,015,000 $249,000 93% 4 $30,200
4 $1,004,000 $0 86% 4 N/A
5 $1,003,000 $95,300 57% 5 $29,600
6 $978,000 $272,000 93% 4 $25,500
7 $964,000 $134,000 57% 5 $29,600
8 $909,000 $126,000 77% 4 $26,700
9 $905,000 $0 83% 4 N/A
10 $887,000 $250,000 94% 4 $30,900
11 $870,000 $178,000 71% 6 $54,500
12 $856,000 $101,000 86% 5 $33,500
13 $840,000 $195,000 77% 4 $26,700
14 $837,000 $87,700 62% 4 $28,600
15 $832,000 $250,000 83% 5 $26,700
16 $811,000 $255,000 94% 4 $32,200
17 $801,000 $257,000 83% 4 $18,000
18 $797,000 $240,000 97% 4 $18,100
19 (tie) $793,000 $254,000 91% 4 $32,100
19 (tie) $793,000 $132,000 62% 4 $28,600
21 $783,000 $92,200 76% 4 $30,700
22 (tie) $777,000 $180,000 86% 5 $33,500
22 (tie) $777,000 $242,000 86% 4 $44,400
24 $766,000 $215,000 53% 5 $44,200
25 $760,000 $254,000 97% 4 $27,400

 
Interestingly, Money narrowed down the list to only public schools and excluded the service academies and came up with a 25 that looks like this:
 

College 20-Year ROI With Financial Aid 20-Year ROI With Sticker Price Graduation Rate
SUNY Maritime College $1,030,000 $1,003,000 57%
Colorado School of Mines $949,000 $909,000 77%
Georgia Institute of Technology $904,000 $856,000 86%
The California Maritime Academy $866,000 $837,000 62%
University of California-Berkeley $833,000 $759,000 92%
Massachusetts Maritime Academy $825,000 $783,000 76%
Missouri University of Science and Technology $789,000 $753,000 64%
New Jersey Institute of Technology $767,000 $704,000 61%
Maine Maritime Academy $748,000 $718,000 62%
Virginia Military Institute $736,000 $680,000 78%
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo $722,000 $699,000 80%
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology $719,000 $692,000 49%
University of California-San Diego $711,000 $642,000 87%
University of Virginia $709,000 $633,000 94%
Michigan Technological University $696,000 $649,000 67%
University of Washington-Bothell $663,000 $609,000 67%
Montana Tech $658,000 $634,000 46%
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology $650,000 $635,000 48%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign $636,000 $585,000 85%
University of California-Los Angeles $634,000 $556,000 91%
San Jose State University $632,000 $597,000 62%
Virginia Tech $629,000 $597,000 84%
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor $627,000 $559,000 91%
SUNY at Binghamton $622,000 $590,000 83%
University of Maryland-College Park $614,000 $577,000 86%

 

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