With help from PayScale, a Seattle-based compensation-data company that maintains 35 million salary profiles, we collected median pay figures for two pools of each school’s alums: recent grads (out of school for an average of three years) and midcareer types (an average of 15 years out). For each group, we divided the median alumnus or alumna salary by tuition and fees (assuming they paid full price at then-current rates), averaged the results and, finally, converted that result to a percentage figure. The outcome: a measure of return on investment that we’ve dubbed the Payback Score. For example, a hypothetical alum who spent $100,000 to attend college and now earns $150,000 a year would have a personal score of 150. Just as with the SATs, the higher the score, the better.
The result: of the fifty schools tested, the top 17 scoring schools on investment vs. salary return were state schools. The highest rated private school was Ivy League Princeton (I guess it doesn’t hurt to have ETS across town, does it)?
At the bottom were many of the “tonier” non-Ivy League Northeastern liberal arts colleges, with outliers like Tulane.
One key to success is an institution that is turning out large numbers of science and engineering graduates, which help to boost the salary potential. (To my Christian friends: hint, hint…) Here at UTC, everyone complains that the College of Engineering and Computer Science costs the most per credit hour to educate our students. My response? No guts, no glory…and we are well down the cost scale.
Some will complain that we should not be so mercenary in our evaluation of college education costs. So how else do you plan to pay back your student debt?
Sad to say, this silver lining has a cloud: you can’t be President of the United States graduating from the likes of Georgia Tech or the University of Florida. Both parties have nominated their Ivy League champions this time, taking the issue off of the table for the next four years.