Financial Aid

10 Colleges Worth Every Penny

Payscale measures mid-career salaries from graduates to determine the colleges with the best ROI.

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 03, 2019

10 Colleges Worth Every Penny
As graduates leave colleges saddled with debt and make monthly loan payment after loan payment, they oftentimes look back at their college experience and wonder…was it worth it? Fortunately, there are ways to measure whether or not a college degree is, or was, really worth it. Payscale, a company that measures salaries across industries and locations, measures earnings from graduates over time to determine which colleges provide the best return on investment (ROI). In plain terms, they find out which colleges provide the most bang for their buck once students graduate and begin their journey in the real world. Payscale acknowledges that there are a few factors that go into making a college a great return on investment at this time:
  • Fields of study – schools that offer majors in engineering, science and math offer a great ROI because these positions offer better salaries.
  • Financial aid – more financial aid for students means less debt for them after graduate, which translates into a positive ROI.
  • Ivy League – the best universities in the country typically pave the way for graduates to land top-notch jobs with higher salaries.

With that, Payscale has identified the top 10 colleges in the country that offer the best return on investment for its students based on mid-career salaries: 10. SUNY Maritime College – $140,100

9. Princeton University – $141,300

8. U.S. Military Academy (West Point) – $141,900

6. Harvard University – $142,600 (Tied in sixth place)

6. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – $142,600 (Tied in sixth place)

4. California Institute of Tech (CalTech) – $143,100 (Tied in fourth place)

4. Stanford University – $143,100 (Tied in fourth place)

3. U.S. Naval Academy – $149,800

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – $150,400

1. Harvey Mudd College – $157,400 In the full report, Payscale assessed colleges and universities across the country based on millions of people who take Payscale's salary survey each year. While return on investment is definitely worthwhile in helping to make a college decision, it shouldn't be the leading factor. There are plenty of great colleges out there that offer a great return on investment that may not even be listed. Students and parents should look at colleges from all angles -- from the majors offered to campus community to financial aid to student success outcomes. Finding a college based on all of these factors will provide more than a return on investment; it will guarantee a college experience that was worth every penny -- both literally and figuratively.

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