Best Bang for Your Buck: College Edition

Best Bang for Your Buck: College Edition

With college tuition skyrocketing and Americans now owing over $1 trillion in student loans, it's more crucial than ever to choose a school for which it's worth actually footing the bill.

After all, with many grads on the hook for six-figure tuition totals, making sure that degree actually pays off is crucial to students' future financial health.


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With that in mind, a new report from PayScale crunched the numbers to uncover which of America's schools have first-rate ROIs.

To do so, PayScale tallied up the total average income that a grad should expect to earn after 20 years of working. From there, they subtracted the amount they would have earned as high-school grads anyway, as well as the cost of their degree (including tuition, room and board and other fees), taking financial aid into account as well. The result? Each college's 20-year net ROI.

The top 10 schools are:

  1. Harvey Mudd College
  2. California Institute of Technology
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. Stanford University
  5. Colorado School of Mines (in-state)
  6. Georgia Institute of Technology
  7. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
  8. Polytechnic Institute of New York University
  9. Stevens Institute of Technology
  10. Colorado School of Mines (out-of-state)

You probably noticed that these names hold one major aspect in common: They are all filled by universities known for their excellence in science and engineering fields.

In fact, PayScale found, the majors in the STEM fields—Science, Technology, Engineering or Math—reap the best bang for their buck overall, regardless of the alma mater.

"When it comes to earnings, yes, it's all about STEM," Katie Bardaro, an economist at PayScale, told CNN Money. Of course, "we need people to be teachers and social workers. But if you want to go into those fields, you need to understand the income potential so you can make the right choice about taking out loans and where you go to school."


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