Here's how much grads earn 10 years after attending the most expensive colleges in America

  • Tuition and other expenses at top US colleges continue to rise.
  • Using data from the Department of Education, we took a look at what the median student at the 20 most expensive colleges in the US earned 10 years after attending those schools.

College continues to get more expensive, especially at the top end of the scale, and it’s worth looking at the return on investment for that enormous cost.

It turns out that many of the most expensive educations available in the US offer modest returns in terms of post-graduation salaries.

Using data from the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, we found the average annual cost of attendance and median earnings for employed students 10 years after matriculation for four-year, primarily baccalaureate-granting institutions with at least 500 undergraduate students enrolled.

Here are the top 20 most expensive schools in the US, according to that measure, ranked by median earnings 10 years after first attendance:

Kathleen Elkins contributed to an earlier version of this article.


Bard College

Location: Annandale-On-Hudson, NY

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,724

16th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US39,700


Oberlin College

Facebook/Oberlin College

Location: Oberlin, OH

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,870

14th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US40,800


Sarah Lawrence College

Location: Bronxville, NY

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,642

18th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US43,000


Occidental College

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Average annual cost of attendance: $US67,046

9th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US50,600


Southern Methodist University

Location: Dallas, TX

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,889

13th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US60,700


Haverford College

Location: Haverford, PA

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,648

17th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US60,700


New York University

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Location: New York, NY

Average annual cost of attendance: $US67,637

7th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US61,900


Amherst College

Location: Amherst, MA

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,572

19th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US65,000


University of Chicago

Facebook/University of Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Average annual cost of attendance: $US70,100

1st most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US68,100


Drexel University

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Average annual cost of attendance: $US67,821

5th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US68,800


Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Average annual cost of attendance: $US67,887

4th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US69,000


Washington University in St. Louis

Location: St. Louis, MO

Average annual cost of attendance: $US67,751

6th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US70,100


University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Average annual cost of attendance: $US67,064

8th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US74,000


Dartmouth College

Location: Hanover, NH

Average annual cost of attendance: $US67,044

10th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US75,500


Yale University

Yana Paskova/Stringer/Getty Images

Location: New Haven, CT

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,445

20th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US83,200


Columbia University

Location: New York, NY

Average annual cost of attendance: $US69,021

3rd most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US83,300


Duke University

Location: Durham, NC

Average annual cost of attendance: $US67,005

11th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US84,400


University of Pennsylvania

f11photo/Shutterstock

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,800

15th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US85,900


Harvey Mudd College

Location: Claremont, CA

Average annual cost of attendance: $US69,355

2nd most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US88,800


Georgetown University

Location: Washington, DC

Average annual cost of attendance: $US66,971

12th most expensive college

Median earnings 10 years after entry: $US93,500

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.