A college education isn’t cheap. But it’s an investment, of both time and money — and all you can do is choose the right program, work hard, and hope it pays off.
“We want to ensure that students have access to the best information available when evaluating the financial return on their college investment and when making decisions on how to best fund their education,” says Lydia Frank, editorial director at Payscale, the creator of the world’s largest compensation database, in a press release. “This is why PayScale produces an annual College ROI Report.”
With average student loan debt hovering around $US30,000, students and parents can’t afford not to consider earning potential post-graduation, she says.
However, Payscale explains that this doesn’t mean students should only pursue majors with the highest earning potential or make decisions about where to attend school based solely off college ROI rankings. They need to do what will make them happy — but it doesn’t hurt to be educated on their potential return.
“We currently have 18-year-olds signing on the dotted line for student loans they’re not even certain they can pay back,” says Frank. “Access to data showing how other alumni following a similar path have fared in the job market is critical to ensuring students are making financial decisions that make sense.”
And as it turns out, some schools are doing a much better job of setting their students up for success in the job market than others.
“Whether you’re planning to study computer science or psychology, earning potential in your chosen field, along with the cost of attendance for the schools you’re considering, should be part of the equation when whittling down your list of best return on investment colleges,” Frank says.
The top schools overall for college return on investment (not taking into account financial aid) are Harvey Mudd College, California Institute of Technology, and Stevens Institute of Technology. When you factor in financial aid, Stanford takes the No. 3 spot, bumping Stevens Institute of Technology into No. 4.
All data used to produce PayScale’s Return on Investment (ROI) Package were collected from employees who successfully completed PayScale’s employee survey. To calculate ROI, Payscale looked at the investment in each college, which includes the cost of attending, as calculated by the cost for a graduate in 2014, on and off campus — and then looked at the return for each college, which is the expected future income stream. (Click here to read more about the methodology.)
Payscale’s list can be sorted by the best value colleges for various majors and career paths, as well as ROI at a school overall. You can see which colleges are providing the best monetary return for their alumni via low cost of attendance, high earning potential, or a combination of the two.
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