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5 Colleges that Will Provide Students with a Great Return on Investment

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Updated: May 4, 2023
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This article was written by AdmitYogi, a platform for parents and high schoolers to read through thousands of examples of successful college applications. You can learn more about them at AdmitYogi.com.

In recent years, getting a college education has become increasingly critical to success in the workplace. Indeed, many professional opportunities are closed off to individuals who do not have a degree. Clearly, obtaining a college degree is important, but it’s also normally expensive, so it’s worth asking: what colleges offer the most value for the money? In other words, what are the colleges with the best ROI (return on investment)? In this article, we’ll provide some college ROI rankings and discuss some colleges with the best return on investment.

How to Calculate College ROI

Before we can discuss the best colleges for your money, it’s worth discussing how we ranked the best return on investment colleges and how you can use a similar methodology when exploring colleges you’d like to rank.

Ultimately, we wanted to identify universities that paid for themselves — in other words, that produced a disproportionate amount of long-term financial benefits compared to their tuition costs. Specifically, we looked at career earnings in the ten years that followed a student’s graduation and compared that against the net cost of the university that the student attended.

These colleges provided an overwhelmingly positive return on investment for higher education. As our findings detail, these were largely STEM schools; if you are not a STEM student, that’s OK, though! You can use a similar methodology when ranking your own top-choice schools!

Top Return on Investment Colleges:

#1: Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Located in the bustling city of Atlanta, Georgia Tech is a public research university acclaimed for its STEM and business programs. Known for its generous financial aid packages and deep connections to the vibrant professional scene of Atlanta (Delta, AT&T, and the Coca-Cola Company are just a few of the many companies based out of the Big Peach).

The average net price tuition for undergraduates is $10,258 a year, but students go on to earn a staggering $65,500 a year only two years after graduating! Georgia Tech is an incredible university where affordability meets excellence.

#2: Colorado School of Mines

Also known as Mines, the Colorado School of Mines is located in the appropriately-named Golden, Colorado after the rapid growth of the Colorado region following the gold rush. This school, just like Georgia Tech, is known for its heavy tech focus, and students get to explore a wide berth of STEM disciplines, including engineering and mathematics.

The average cost to attend the Colorado School of Mines is around $27,000 a year (although it’s much cheaper for in-state residents), and students have an average starting salary of $69,200 two years after graduation.

#3: Golden Gate University

A nonprofit university in San Francisco, Golden Gate University is known for its heavy professional focus. It thus offers only thirteen undergraduate degrees in areas including accounting and law, and it provides students with flexibility by allowing individuals to enroll in online classes.

The average cost to attend GGU Is $15,840 a year, and students earn an average of $66,100 one-two year after college finishes for them.

#4: Missouri University of Science and Technology 

Located in the heart of Rolla, Missouri, the Missouri University of Science and Technology is a mid-sized public university that over 6000 students call home. It’s known for its emphasis on STEM education and strong computer science, engineering, and natural science programs. The Missouri University of Science and Technology is also known for offering generous financial aid to students.

The average cost to attend Missouri S&T varies based on income but is roughly $12,000. Students earn a staggering average starting salary of over $72,000!

#5: Augusta University

The final college we’ll mention (and another college based in Georgia), Augusta University, is a public research university near Augusta, Georgia. Scenic views of the Savannah River are not the only thing attendees of Augusta University will receive, either! Known for its emphasis on medical education and wide range of in-person and online offerings, this is a great option for those hoping to learn more about the medical space.

Tuition costs vary, but for in-state residents, Augusta University can be as cheap as $6000 (and can be similarly cheap for out-of-state applicants who take advantage of Augusta’s generous financial aid offers). The average postgraduate salary is $54,000 one year out of college.

College Degrees with the Best Return on Investment

As the data above highlights, STEM-focused degrees tend to produce the best ROI. This is because there is a limited supply of STEM employees in many industries, even though these industries often have a high demand for STEM workers. As such, majors like engineering, mathematics, and healthcare are commonly near the top of lists detailing degrees with the best ROI.

If you’re not as interested in STEM, you can also explore majors like economics and finance. In fact, economics is the most common major of billionaires!

What is a good ROI for going to college?

While there’s no way of quantifying what a “good” return on investment looks like for attending college, you should ensure that the university you attend is in good standing and has a reputation and alumni network you can tap into. You should also ensure that it offers a quality program in the major you’re looking at and that the major you’re exploring has strong career earnings and employability potential.

Typically, colleges that are worthy investments will not overly encumber you with student loan debt. If there is any student loan debt you accumulate, you’ll be able to pay it off in ten to fifteen years, max. By using these principles, you can hopefully identify colleges that are worthwhile investments!


Ultimately, choosing the right college to attend is a crucial decision, and it’s one that you shouldn’t take lightly. While ROI isn’t the only factor you should consider when deciding which colleges you’d like to attend (factors like location, fit, and the availability of academic programs are only a few of the many other criteria worth exploring), it is certainly something worth looking into.

We hope this article helps you find colleges with a great ROI, and if you’d like to find schools that offer merit-based scholarships, feel free to check out this free list here!

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