dcsimg
You are here:

The ROI of a College Education

College tuition + fees + housing and a meal plan total $50,000 annually. It's no secret that college is expensive, but numbers like these still cause sticker shock.

Given the price, it's natural -- and wise -- to question what the return on investment (ROI) of college will be. In short, what is the worth of a college degree today? How can you minimize the financial burden and maximize the rewards of higher education?

Cost of a College Degree

Don't panic. Not many people pay $50,000 for a bachelor's degree. According to the College Board, 53 percent of students spend less than $9,000 a year on tuition and fees, and average annual tuition/fees break down as follows:

    • Private 4-year universities: $26,273
    • Public 4-year universities: $18,548 for out-of-state students
    • Public 4-year universities: $7,020 for in-state students
    • Public 2-year colleges: $2,544

 

Furthermore, most students rely on financial aid to mitigate out-of-pocket expenditures. In 2008-2009, the average amount of aid per student was $10,000, and more than half that figure was grant money that would not have to be paid back.

So to maximize the ROI of your college degree, lessen the cost by investigating aid options. Government loans are often a shrewd choice, but try to minimize debt by applying for scholarships. Also keep in mind that pricey, elite universities have large endowments and therefore often award generous grants.

Value of a College Degree

A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey reveals that in 2009, the median weekly wage of someone with a bachelor's degree was $1,205 -- or $399 more than the average for individuals with high school diplomas only. Attaining advanced degrees raised compensation, which topped out at $1,532/week for those with doctorates.

So investment in any college degree leads to a substantial return. But when it comes to payouts, not all degrees are created equal. In 2010, engineering and computer science majors were the highest earners right out of school. Business-related degrees like economics were also lucrative. The average starting salaries of the top five degrees were:

    • $86,220 (petroleum engineering)
    • $65,142 (chemical engineering)
    • $64,552 (mining/mineral engineering)
    • $61,205 (computer science)
    • $60,879 (computer engineering)

 

Whatever your course of study, in order to be satisfied with the ROI of your college education, consider how much debt you anticipate being comfortable carrying after graduation, given average salaries in your desired field.

It can be difficult to write tuition checks, but it's smart to invest in education. No matter what your first job pays, you'll have emerged from college savvier than before, and better equipped to maximize your long-run earning potential.

 

Search Schools

      
Matching School Ads
  • Washington State University

    Get your career started with training from Washington State University.

    Programs

    • Executive MBA
    • MBA
    Location:
    Pullman: , Pullman WA
    Washington State University Request Info »
  • Chamberlain University

    Designed by RNs for RNs

    Programs

    • RN to BSN Online Option

    Location: Online

    Chamberlain University Request Info »
  • George Mason University

    Located in Fairfax, Virginia, George Mason University is the largest public research university in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    Programs

    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization
    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • More...

    Location: Online

    George Mason  University Request Info »
  • Intercoast Colleges

    Training in as little as 40 weeks, at InterCoast Colleges.

    Programs

    • Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician
    • AAS Degree in Business Office Administration
    • Associates in Applied Science Degree in Substance Abuse Counseling
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Intercoast Colleges Request Info »
  • Capella University

    An accredited online university, Capella University offers bachelor’s, master’s/MBA, doctoral, and certificate programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession.

    Programs

    • DHS - Advanced Program Evaluation & Data Analytics
    • MSN - RN-to-MSN Care Coordination (CCNE-accredited)
    • BS - Human Resource Management (ACBSP-accredited)
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Capella University Request Info »
  • University of Southern California - DSW

    The University of Southern California Doctor of Social Work (DSW) online program is designed for experienced practitioners to harness innovative solutions to solve real-world problems.

    Unlike a PhD in social work, which prepares scholars for careers in research and the professoriate, the DSW@USC is an online advanced practice degree program for working professionals who want to have a greater impact in their practice.

    Programs

    • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
    Location:
    Los Angeles: 669 W 34th St, Los Angeles CA 90089
    University of Southern California - DSW Request Info »
  • Platt College

    Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.

    Programs

    • Veterinary Technology Alternate Route - Certificate
    • Respiratory Therapy
    • Veterinary Technology - Associates

    Location: Online

    Platt College Request Info »
  • Liberty University

    100% Online & No Standardized Testing

    Programs

    • Doctor of Education: Community Care & Counseling: Marriage & Family
    • Doctor of Ministry: Evangelism & Church Planting
    • M.Div: Homiletics
    • More...
    Location:
    Lynchburg: 1971 University Blvd,, Lynchburg VA 24515
    Liberty University Request Info »
  • Full Sail University - Online

    Learning at Full Sail University has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas. Our online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy.

    Programs

    • Cloud Technologies Bachelors - Online
    • Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
    • Entertainment Business, Master of Science (Online)
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Full Sail University - Online Request Info »
  • Ohio Christian University

    Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.

    Programs

    • Associate of Arts in Business - Business Management
    • Bachelor of Arts in Business - Organizational Leadership
    • Master of Arts in Ministry - Practical Theology
    • More...
    Location:
    Circleville: 1476 Lancaster Pike,, Circleville OH 43113
    Ohio Christian University Request Info »
  • Matching School Ads

    Quick School Search

    College & Career Search Tools

    • Careers: Unsure about your career path? Study profiles of hundreds of professions.

    • Interviews: Professors and deans sit down with our team to give you unique insights on college life.

    • Military Education: Find only Military friendly online schools and campuses.

    • Student Reviews: Know before you go. Read student reviews on over 2000 accredited colleges. Write your own experience.

    News Archives