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5 Colleges with Great ROI

Thursday, February 1, 2024

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The value of a college degree is a topic of constant debate and often something families consider when preparing for the college admissions process. There is no denying that a college education is one of the most important investments families will ever make.

Students and parents often look beyond the prestige of name-brand schools and give more consideration to institutions with reputations for the best return on investment. If you’re looking for schools with great value and post-grad success, here is our list of schools with a great ROI!

Harvey Mudd College: Claremont, CA

Consistently ranked as having the highest starting salaries for recent grads, Harvey Mudd College in California is one of the schools best known for offering a great ROI. This private liberal arts colleges for science, engineering, and mathematics takes top billing on PayScale’s 2023 College Education ROI Rankings list:

  • Average net price (2021-22): $39,850
  • 20-year net ROI: $1,383,000
  • Average base salary: $116,000


What makes Harvey Mudd so unique is its emphasis on liberal arts and social sciences in relation to STEM, so that students will understand the impact their work has on society. Students can choose from six engineering, science, and mathematics-based majors or five STEM-focused joint major programs. The core curriculum is based heavily on humanities courses.

Colorado School of Mines: Golden, CO

A lesser-known school with one of the best ROIs is Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO. This public research university is a great investment for students interested in engineering and geosciences.

  • Average net price (2021-22): $29,425
  • 20-year net ROI: $1,161,000
  • Average base salary: $83,000


What makes an education at Colorado School of Mines different is the emphasis placed on communication, leadership, teamwork, and ethics courses, in addition to a technical education with a strong laboratory curriculum. Students are trained not only to excel in their specific fields, but also to work as a team in order to build successful career skills.

Georgia Institute of Technology: Atlanta, GA

Looking for another public university with great ROI? Georgia Tech is worthy of your consideration. Not only is it a great choice for STEM programs, but students also pursue programs in business, liberal arts, and design. As a bonus, the bustling city of Atlanta surrounds the campus.

  • Average net price (2021-22): $17,402
  • 20-year net ROI: $1,049,000
  • Average base salary: $95,000


Georgia Tech students can participate in the largest cooperative education program in the U.S. Co-op participants work for three alternating semesters, and many are hired permanently upon graduation.

University of California, Berkeley: Berkeley, CA

Frequently listed as one of the “Public Ivies,” the University of California, Berkeley is a public research university with the ROI of an Ivy League institution. In fact, UC Berkeley is ranked the top public university in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

  • Average net price (2021-22): $19,257
  • 20-year net ROI: $939,000
  • Average base salary: $96,000


A UC Berkeley degree provides an Ivy League-caliber education at the price of a state school. UC Berkeley offers over 300 degree programs across a wide range of disciplines. Learn how to get into UC Berkeley.

Babson College: Wellesley, MA

Business and entrepreneurship students know the value of a great ROI, so it’s no wonder that Babson College in Massachusetts is often a top pick for students looking for a great value with an excellent return.

  • Average net price (2021-22): $28,400
  • 20-year net ROI: $923,000
  • Average base salary: $83,000


This private business school is consistently ranked as one of the top schools for entrepreneurs. Babson offers a strong liberal arts foundation placing an emphasis on real-world experience. All first-year students take the year-long Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship course, where students develop, launch, and manage their own businesses.

Other schools known for great ROI include MIT, the United States Naval Academy, CaltechStanford University, and Princeton University.

It’s important to assess what ROI will be upon graduation. We tell our students when looking at rankings lists to not only look at the actual rank, but also what is being used to calculate that ranking. These days, rankings lists are placing more weight on starting and mid-career salaries of alumni, so this is something to look for when researching schools for a balanced college list.

If this all seems overwhelming, don’t worry. IvyWise offers research services, such as college summary reports and more in-depth research reports, that can save you a significant amount of time as you craft your college list. Contact us to learn more.


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