The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers the best value for money among private colleges in the U.S., while those seeking low student fees should consider a military or maritime academy, research reveals.
The data, compiled from PayScale.com’s 2018 College ROI Report on the Best Value Colleges, compares the difference in median earnings over a 20-year period for graduates, and median earnings over a 24-year period for non graduates, minus four years’ college tuition fees.
And a fascinating interactive scatter chart, created by Reddit user Newfangled, crunches the numbers to highlight which colleges offer the best return on their investment for students over their careers.
MIT, which has median graduate earning of just over $1,000,000 over a 20-year period, delivers the best bang for student buck among the private colleges. MIT graduates can expect to earn way beyond the average high school graduate, despite their high tuition fees, over the course of their career.
Harvey Mudd College, a liberal arts college in Claremont, California, which is home to around 1,000 undergrads, also delivers a strong return on student investment.
Private colleges with the highest career earnings
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: +$1,015,000
- Harvey Mudd College: +$978,000
- California Institute of Technology + $887,000
- Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences + $870,000
- Stevens Institute of Technology: +$832,000
- Stanford University: +$811,000
- Webb Institute: +$801,000
- Princeton University: +$797,000
- Babson College: +$793,000
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute: +$777,000
- Kettering University: +$766,000
- Harvard University: +$760,000
- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology: +$751,000
- University of Pennsylvania: +$739,000
- Dartmouth College: +$707,000
The total cost of study on average over four years is $272,000, and the total median earnings over the next two decades is $978,000 more than the median earnings of high school grads, making it the second best performing private college in the U.S. in terms of long term average earnings.
But for students wanting returns without significant financial investment, military and maritime academies offer excellent value.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy tops the chart for highest income compared to investment among all institutions across the U.S.
An average 20-year income of $1,094,000 more than the median earnings of high school grads, with a four-year study cost of $34,900 (compared with $249,000 for the same period at MIT), delivers a strong return.
Although it should be noted that students at military academies also invest several years of their lives in service as a trade-off afterwards.
Similarly, the United States Military Academy, which requires no fees from its intake, also offers a strong return with a $1,041,000 over 20 years more than the median earnings of high school grads over 24 years.
On the other end of the spectrum, some colleges offer negative returns on investment over a 20 year period.
Students at the Maine College of Art pay $184,000 over four years but make on average $163,000 less than non-graduates do over a 24-year term.
Similarly, students wanting a strong return on their investment might potentially consider avoiding the likes of Mississippi Valley State University, with a $174,600 negative return compared to the earnings of high school grads.
Winner: MIT, which has median graduate earning of just over $1,000,000 more than high school grads over a 20-year period, delivers the best bang for student buck among the private colleges. Harvard comes in at 25th of the overall list because of it’s high student tuition fees
The United States Military Academy, which requires no pupil fees, also offers a strong return with a $1,041,000 more than the median earnings of high school grads over 20 years
The United States Military Academy, which requires no fees from its intake, also offers a strong return with a $1,041,000 more than the median earnings of high school grads
Harvard is 25th in the total list, offering a solid 20 year net of $760,000 more than the median earnings of high school grads, which is off-set by their high university fees ($254,000).
Particular colleges can be accessed on the graph by searching the institution name, with greater information such as early-career, mid-career and late-career average salary also detailed.
The research does not take into account student choices, with many students opting for their preferred roles in lower paid industries such as art, and is simply a reflection of average income over a period of time.