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Top 65 colleges with the highest ROI

Published: Thursday, April 3 2014 11:37 p.m. MDT

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Once again, Payscale has released their annual report ranking colleges based on their return on investment, and once again technical schools and private liberal arts colleges came out on top, for the most part.

There were, however, some major changes to this year's list. According to their website, Payscale has "refined" their methodology to more accurately reflect the ROI potential of a given school.

The most significant change from last year's metric being the switch from tracking the 30-year Net ROI to the 20-year.

Why the change? According to Payscale, income increases largely level off at age 40, and since most students graduate at or around 20 they decided including the extra 10 years in their Net ROI report wasn't necessary.

Because of this some school's saw dramatic changes in their positioning. Brigham Young University, for example, experienced a shift of almost 20 points based on the new metrics.

In fact, BYU is the highest ranking Utah school on the list, coming in at no. 65. Weber State is the second highest, at no. 195. University of Utah, Utah State, Westminster and Southern Utah University were all also ranked, coming in at 204, 215, 552 and 829 respectively.

So which colleges have a better ROI than BYU? You might be surprised by who is, and isn't, included in the top 65.

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Oatmeal
Woods Cross, UT

What? No University of Utah?

CougarBlue
Heber City, UT

Utah Falcon if you read the article really slow then you will understand it is the monetary investment the students/parents pay to attend the college/university. The students at the AF Academy don't pay room and board, nor do they pay tuition or for books. You and I the taxpayer foot those bills. So, no the AF Academy would not be on this list.

As far as Utah I am surprised. That would certainly make one rethink attending there.

Beaver Native
Garland, UT

BYU's cost was listed as among the least expensive (perhaps the least).

I think that the real problem in ROI is that students aren't choosing fields where the ROI outlook looks good. I am one who wished I had more seriously considered the ROI when choosing a major.

william pogner
buena vista, VA

Very interesting and informative. Thanks. I notice that many of the top ten on this list are schools of technology- engineering heavy programs. I don't imagine too many schools with only a few majors heavy in Shakespeare or Latin would crack the top 1,000 (if such a school existed). What I would really like to see is a list of ROI by major. See if you can get to work on that. :)

rnoble
Pendleton, OR

Poorly organized listing. Each college may have different tuition costs but should not occupy two spots in the list. I also don't believe that Harvey Mudd college really returns more than Stanford or Harvard or Caltech even as a percentage when earnings power is related over 30 years. I was surprised that those three were so high up the list because my experience with friends that have attended those while I was at BYU was that I spent roughly a tenth the money that they did at those three. Absent from the list of top 100 is Notre Dame; a friends daughter went there at about thrice the cost of my attending BYU (25 years later) and I am sure her 30 year monetary prospect is at least as good as Stanford or Texas Tech.

ute alumni
paradise, UT

BYU's true cost is not shown as it is heavily subsidized by the church.

RBB
Sandy, UT

Obviously whoever did these calculations is not a math major. You have schools that cost $140000 than another scool with an "ROI" slightly more and yet it is ranked higher. At normal interest rates you would need $20000 per year more for at least 20 years to break even. I would strongly suggest a the U, USU, Weber or the Y over many of the schools listed. This looks like fuzzy math.

morpunkt
Glendora, CA

LOL. My J.C. chemistry professor was a graduate of Harvey Mudd College. He commented once, that during the 50s and 60s, they would have a "battle of the slide rules" with Caltech. Harvey Mudd won every year.

Dr. Thom
Long Beach, CA

Interesting article, but how do you measure and compare the ROI of someone at BYU majoring in business management or computer science against someone majoring in vocal arts?

belgie
Tualatin, OR

@ute alumni - Similarly, the UofU is heavily subsidized by taxes. The difference? People voluntarily give tithing.

You are welcome for my contribution to your education.

J-TX
Allen, TX

Sure, the girl in the photo for #63 - Milwaukee School of Engineering is an Engineering major.

Cougsndawgs
West Point , UT

I agree with another poster that it would be interesting to see the ROI on specific majors. I say this because we all know that some schools are better than others in certain areas and this obviously affects the ROI. BYU is a top business school, while Weber State is probably the best nursing school, Utah the best science and health, Utah state the best engineering, etc. I tell my own children that what you want to major in is as, or more important than what university you decide to attend. For instance, I wouldn't suggest to my own student to attend BYU if they decided on a health science career.

J-TX
Allen, TX

I would like to see the formula used for calculating the ROI.

Looking over all the rankings, they seem inconsistent at best.

Objectified
Tooele, UT

@ ute alumni:

Regardless of whether it is a church or state or any other kind of subsidized school, the survey takes into account the actual cost to the student and/or their parents to attend each particular college. That's what those attending actually care about.

It is totally predictable that ute students/alumni would find all kinds of "issues" with this survey (fuzzy match, etc.). Sometimes the truth just plain hurts... especially when it shows your rival doing something better. When that happens, excuses a dime a dozen.

Black & White
SLC, UT

This can't be right... and here are a few reasons why:
1. There's more schools from the WCC than the PAC-12 on the list
2. Most of these schools are named after PEOPLE or FRUIT, not States or Cities (Who is Harvey Mudd, and why would you name a school after a Mellon?)
3. The vast majority of these schools don't have a recognizable Athletics program or any athletic program at all; esp. Football (and NO Rowing, Fencing and Synchronized Swimming are not sports they're Olympic events)
4. Univ. of Utah is not on the list, and we all know they put more emphasis on education than athletics
5. BYU is #65, and everyone knows they're #1
6. Multiple schools showed photos of the same "student" (Texas A&M, Cal Poly, Embry-Riddle), or didn't even have a photo of their school at all (IIT, Worcester)
7. And finally, there are several schools on the list TWICE, and that's cheating.

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

Is BYU really now $20k per year? I haven't thought tuition in 20 years but still...$20k annually seems high. BYU's website shows the LDS semester cost at $2355 and non LDS at $4710 per semester. I'm sure they're factoring in living expenses as well then, but that still comes out at $1274 per month for a calendar year of living plus two semesters of tuition at fulltime student rates. An LDS student could attend two semesters and two terms (year round) and still spend $1077/mo on living expenses to hit $20k annually, but that student would graduate in fewer than 4 full years. If graduation requires ~120 credit hours and if the student takes close to the min number of credits required to be considered fulltime the student should graduate in ~3 years, thus putting the actual cost of BYU for an LDS student at ~$60k.

But then I'm sure this survey looked at non-LDS prices.

no comment
New Orleans, LA

If you made a list of schools with the highest percentage of unemployed graduates (think housewives), BYU would likely be #1. If you factor the unemployed by choice into the ROI list, how high would BYU move?

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

Not surprising. BYU is heavily subsidized through tithing dollars giving them very low tuition. While I'm sure the University of Utah is better than average in this category, it's obviously not going to compete with something like that.

haggie
Visalia, CA

I love all the Utes complaining about tithes being used to pay for tuition at BYU as they attend their publically funded college.

My recollection is that a large portion of the tuition offset is from BYU Foundation. I could be wrong. In any regard, those of you who worship UofU should be willing to spend more for your education and not mandate the citizens of the state of Utah pay for your tuition.

Go Cougs

wer
South Jordan, UT

Other thoughts:

-as several writers mentioned, the results of the calculations do seem fuzzy, at best. (The study's writers used a federal program perspective, possibly)

-the U is a fine regional university with high marks in several areas of study

-BYU is a national university that is unique to the point that it hardly attracts anyone outside the LDS Church. Although close geographically to other state schools, it offers education and lifestyle ops that are not found virtually anywhere else.

-When all is said and done, what difference does this report make?

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

I would love to see a list showing the ROI for different majors.
Let's see what an MBA or Engineering degree return vs any variety of ethnic studies or other degrees that have zero value in the market place.

Sports Are Great
Salt Lake City, UT

ute alumni,

And Utah's is subsidized by taxpayers.

Did you seriously try and play that card not realizing the Utah subsidy?

AllBlack
San Diego, CA

Babson College (#11) in MA has the same student (in its photo) as does the Milwaukee School of Engineering (#63). Girl does get around....

derecha
Central, UT

Ute Alumni, State schools are heavily subsidized by state taxpayers, hence the reason that there is an in-state tuition vs. an out-of-state tuition. There really is no difference. BYU has an LDS tuition vs. a non-LDS tuition just the same. The value and ROI is based on the cost to the student and parent.

Sports Are Great
Salt Lake City, UT

Are we sure the University of Utah is that high?

AllBlack
San Diego, CA

If BYU has an annual ROI of 10.9% whilst Harvard and MIT and other more expensive colleges are around 8%...then I'm choosing BYU for my kids. Paying $80k instead of $230K something makes more sense to me....maybe the 20 year ROI is lower due to all these graduates going on missions or refusing out of state jobs in the big corporations? Still almost 11% compares well to 8%of MIT.

California Steve
Hanford, CA

Nice that BYU beat Utah. Now if we could only do something really important like win a football game.

PGVikingDad
Pleasant Grove, UT

Here's the most astounding statistic (and the true reflection of "best" ROI): Only six universities in the nation had a higher annual %ROI than BYU, and then only by 1% or less. The true measure of an investment is not the bottom-line return, but the *percentage* return. It's much more impressive to make $5k on a $10k investment than $10k on $100k.

cowshed
Provo, Utah

Please Deseret News, this is not a list. It's a slide show. It takes at least 10 minutes to page through, when with an actual list I could learn all I need to know in 10 seconds. Please stop wasting your readers' time! Give us lists when that is what is really needed and what is implied by your lead-in.

Scoot
South Jordan, UT

Dang, why go to BYU when I can go to Harvey Mudd College instead! What? You haven't heard of Harvey Modd College? Where have you been livin'???

LovelyDeseret
Gilbert, AZ

There are sure a lot of engineering schools in the list.

poyman
Lincoln City, OR

This all may be true, but did you take into account the fact that Utah is part of the pac12 now?

Max
Charlotte, NC

Some commenters are taking this survey far too seriously. I mean, please, South Dakota School of Mines higher than Harvard University? I don't doubt that this is the result of their data. BUT HOW RELIABLE IS THEIR DATA? Let's put it this way, I wouldn't use this list for anything other than entertainment. I certainly wouldn't use it for any decision making purposes.

Trainman
Ivins, UT

Having worked as a faculty member at a very large land grant university for 30 years, I have come to the conclusion that it's not where you go for your education, it's what you do with it after you get out. There are only three land grant schools on the list, Texas A and M, Cornell and Virginia Tech. But I am sure that a degree at any one of these places is not worth 10 times less that a degree from a school that cost 10x more.
I don't know who makes up these kind of lists, but they are meaningless overall. Many of the posters before me have pointed out a lot of the problems with lists like this.

Darren Rowe
Heber City, UT

Why isn't BYU higher? In my opinion the ROI percentage is the most important number, and BYU was probably about #10 out of all the schools. I know there are other factors, but it doesn't make sense to me that you pay $80,000 and get $700,000 back from BYU, versus paying $230,000 and get $700,000 back from most other schools, and BYU gets ranked lower.

As for the utes, it doesn't surprise me that they are ranked so low. Not that they aren't a good institution, but when it comes to this particular category, they aren't (and never have been) very good. A lot of this is because many people go to utah for medical careers, which are very expensive up front and it still takes a while before you make a lot of money. And since this article was using stats only up to 40 years old, many utah graduates are still probably working their way up in the medical field by that time.

BYU gives you more immediate ROI, especially with the low cost.

casual observer
Salt Lake City, UT

If you haven't heard of Harvry Mudd College, it's probably too late to explain.

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