The report—A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges—looks at the return on investment of two- and four-year colleges 10 through 40 years after enrollment and considers the 40-year benchmark to be the most comprehensive in determining value. To measure ROI, the study uses net present value, which estimates how future earnings would be valued today. The measure, calculated using data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, weighs the cost of paying for college against what students could potentially earn over time.
The report found that bachelor’s degrees from private colleges are a good investment, offering higher ROI, on average, than degrees from public colleges 40 years after enrollment. In the short term, 10 years after enrollment, community colleges and many certificate programs have the highest return; however, returns from bachelor’s degrees eventually overtake most of them.
“As student debt levels continue to rise, this report helps parents and prospective students answer this question: Is college worth it? I am not surprised that this report supports what the Baker community has known all along. Not only is a bachelor’s degree worth the investment, but a bachelor’s degree from Baker is a smart investment,” said Lynne Murray, president of Baker University.
For a full report and sortable tables, visit cew.georgetown.edu/collegeROI.