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Use this interactive tool to look up your college’s return on investment

Use this interactive tool to look up your college’s return on investment
Posted at 4:49 PM, Apr 03, 2024

It’s no secret that the cost of college is sky-high — the annual cost of tuition and housing at some colleges now tops $90,000. But is it worth the cost?

U.S. News and World Report’s annual list of best value schools has Ivy League and other prestigious private schools dominating the top 10, and the report’s colleges with the best return on investment is also topped by private universities. But if you have a kid heading off to college in the near future, you might want to consider the return on investment your family can expect to get out of a college education that isn’t at one of those schools, and there’s an online tool that can help you do just that.

MORE: Here are 5 college degrees that pay the highest median salaries

Created by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, this interactive tool enables users to look up the return on investment (ROI) for 4,500 colleges and universities. Simply plug your desired info into the tool: You can choose to “Filter by level” (2-year, 4-year or less than 2-year), “Filter by degree” (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Certificate), “Filter by type” (Private for-profit, private non-profit or public), or you can simply enter in the name of the school you attended or the colleges your high schooler is considering. From there, the tool will show you your ROI at 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 years out.

Georgetown CEW ROI tool

Georgetown’s methodology followed that of their 2019 report, A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges, which ranks thousands of schools based on ROI metrics including tuition, student debt, future earnings and the share of graduates with earnings greater than that of high school graduates.

The report ranks the institutions based on the net present value 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 years from now. Based on Georgetown’s calculations, the schools with the best ROI 40 years out are:

  1. University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis ($2.68 million)
  2. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences ($2.61 million)
  3. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences ($2.51 million)
  4. California Institute of Technology ($2.49 million)
  5.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($2.49 million)
  6. Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science ($2.39 million)
  7. Harvey Mudd College ($2.37 million)
  8. Bentley University ($2.25 million)
  9. Babson College ($2.24 million)
  10. University of Pennsylvania ($2.21 million)

Unlike the U.S. News list, this ranking contains only one Ivy League School (University of Pennsylvania in slot No. 10). When I used the tool to look up my own alma mater (a 4-year public university where I received a bachelor’s degree), I was delighted to see an NPV of $1.1 million at 40 years out.

The bottom line? You don’t need to go to an Ivy to reap the benefits of a quality education.

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