Ranking 4,500 Colleges by ROI (2022)
Using new data from the College Scorecard, we ranked 4,500 colleges and universities by return on investment. The rankings follow the methodology of our 2019 report, A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges.
The rankings include a new metric that measures the share of students at an institution whose earnings 6 years after enrollment are higher than those of workers with a high school diploma as their highest level of education. An average of 60 percent of college students across institutions earn more than a high school graduate after 6 years. However, at 1,233 postsecondary institutions (30 percent), more than half of their students 6 years after enrollment are earning less than a high school graduate. Our previous research indicates that these low earnings may relate to low graduation rates and disparities in earnings by gender and race and ethnicity.
Net Present Value
The net present value is how much a sum of money in the future is valued today. This metric includes costs, future earnings, and the length of time it would take to invest and earn a specific amount of money over a fixed horizon.
NPV at 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 Years
While this report considers the NPV at a long-term (40 years) horizon to be the most comprehensive benchmark for judging value, some might have different goals that make short-term returns more ideal. This metric gives a net present value at various time horizons.
This is the average cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, books and supplies, and living expenses, minus aid received from all sources.
Type & Level of Institution
Type designates whether an institution is a public, private nonprofit, or private for-profit institution. Level designates whether an institution is a less than 2-year, a 2-year, or a 4-year institution.
A ratio that expresses the degree to which earnings 10 years after enrollment are above or below the net price (in percent)—sometimes used to measure return. This measure is included for comparison to show that it does not fully account for a return that has a time horizon.
A ratio that expresses the degree to which earnings 10 years after enrollment are above or below the median total debt (in percent)—sometimes used to measure return. This measure is included for comparison to show that it does not fully account for a return that has a time horizon.
7-Year Repayment Rate
The share of borrowers who have repaid at least $1 of the principal on their student loans since entering into the repayment phase. A high rate likely indicates that a person’s earnings are sufficient to cover debt payments.
The rate at which full-time, first-time students complete their credentials within 150 percent of the expected time (i.e., the percentage of students who earn a bachelor’s degree within six years).
A system begun in 1970 by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education to classify 2-year and 4-year colleges by their common attributes, such as the most prevalent degree, whether they offer graduate degrees, and the level of research activity that takes place there.
Additional Institutional Filters
The table includes filters to isolate minority-serving institutions, men’s and women’s colleges, and liberal arts colleges.
Note: These rankings can be compared with the rankings in our 2019 report. However, the ROI values in this table are in 2020 dollars, while they are in 2017 dollars in our 2019 rankings.
Note: ROI of institutions are calculated using data on the average net price and salary/earnings from the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard. An institution will not be listed in the table if either of these are missing. The earnings data from the College Scorecard include only students who received federal financial aid at the time of enrollment.