Top Schools for Return on Your College Investment

By Staff


According to Forbes and’s ROI Rankings of the 850 colleges with the best return on investment based on the sticker price you pay, the top ten colleges on Payscale’s list are Harvey Mudd College, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Princeton University, Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania and Notre Dame University. Coincidentally, all 10 also made Forbes list of top colleges.

College ROI Is Based On Your Own Experience
The Forbes report goes on to break down the results by noting that the methodology behind the rankings, like most college ranking lists, is based on averages, so your individual return on investment will vary dramatically. Moreover, you should keep in mind that the total enrollments at each of the top ten colleges put together is only about the equivalent to the enrollment of a single flagship state university, like Florida State, Ohio State, or Arizona. So in the grand scheme of things, when you consider how many students can attend these top ten colleges, it’s not many. And it’s very difficult to even get in. Those schools are also the most selective colleges when it comes to admissions.

There is no question that these are fantastic universities at which to earn a high quality education and carry that brand name and reputation for academic rigor with you into the workplace. But only a relative few students can even get into these schools, and not everyone wants to be an electrical engineer, and many families may not be able to pay the more than $55,000 per year sticker prices at these schools to begin with. Don’t sweat it. The good news is that a good rate of return on your college investment can be found on plenty of campuses across the country, and a lot of that depends on you and your individual experience. After all, you are not an average.

The three biggest factors affecting your personal return on investment (ROI) are:

Financial Aid Award
The net cost to attend after your personal aid award (if any), not the average aid award of your university, is what will dictate your net cost. For example, if you get a robust financial aid award at the colleges on the top ten list, it is because your family demonstrated a need for financial aid after completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile aid forms. That is because most of them do not offer academic merit aid based on grades and test scores. A student from another family may not receive any aid, and be expected to write a check for the full sticker price each year.

College Major

College Is Still Worth It, But Jobs And Pay Depend On Major. If you major in biology you most likely will earn a lot less over the next thirty to forty years than an electrical engineer.

Job Location
Where you are willing to go for a job will likely have a lot to do with how well you are paid. An electrical engineering job in Orlando, for example, won’t land you the same pay as one in Silicon Valley. As University of California at Berkeley Professor, Enrico Moretti’s book, The New Geography Of Jobs, points out, where you live matters more than ever when it comes to good paying jobs.