With the increases in college tuition and trillion dollars in student loan debt students are accumulating to earn their college degrees, there is a lot of debate as to whether a college degree is worth the time, money, stress, and commitment. Although the research is clear regarding the many intellectual, income, career mobility, and societal opportunities that accompany a college degree, there is other research that might guide a different conversation. The PayScale company publishes a ROI or Return On Investment ranking of colleges based on the cost to obtain a degree and the earning potential offered. They rank over 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities to determine the potential financial return of attending each institution given the cost of tuition and the payoff in median lifetime earnings associated with each school.

Some of the schools atop the listing are not surprising, i.e., CalTech, MIT, Stanford, and Harvard. However, other schools may be more surprising, i.e., Harvey Mudd (#1), Polytechnic Institute of New York (#3), and Colorado School of Mines. They profile the ROI by gender, major, and school type. It should also be noted that engineering schools are at the top of the list and schools where graduates pursue such careers as education and social work are at the bottom of the list. However, since it will cost a student and his or her family well over $100,000 to pay for the opportunity to obtain a college degree (whether a student actually graduates or not), knowing the potential return on your family’s investment should be considered in guiding your college choice and your choice of college majors.

Top Engineering Schools

Top Ivy League Schools

Top Liberal Arts Schools

Top State Schools

Needless to say, there are many well-known colleges and universities in the listing of schools with the greatest return on investment. However, there are also many lesser known schools that students and parents may want to take a closer look at when deciding where students will spend the four years of their life after high school and tens of thousands of dollars in the pursuit of a degree and career.

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