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This Report Could Help You Choose a College That Will Repay Your Investment

Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder


College is an investment.

Unless you’ve secured significant scholarship or grant money, you can expect to shell out tens of thousands of dollars — or more — for a four-year degree.

All college grads hope investing in a college education will help them land a satisfying, high-paying career.

PayScale, a website that collects information about salaries and job benefits, recently released its annual College Return on Investment Report. It essentially outlines which colleges give grads the most bang for their buck.

PayScale calculated return on investment by finding the difference between the median pay of bachelor’s degree graduates after 20 years and the median pay of high school graduates after 24 years and subtracting the four-year cost to attend the school.

Military colleges (that often come at no cost for enlisted soldiers) and tech schools (where grads go on to enjoy lucrative careers) dominate the top of PayScale’s College ROI list.

But the report can also be customized by state, school type, college major and career field for potential students to see how their preferred schools measure up. The report will even tell you which party schools provide grads with the most promising futures.

Since we’re Penny Hoarders, we decided to take a look at the return on investment from the 10 least expensive schools on PayScale’s list.

Disclaimer: The following list omits military colleges and other specialized schools and colleges outside the continental United States.

Return on Investment at 10 Low-Cost Colleges

Brigham Young University-Idaho

Location: Rexburg, Idaho

Type of school: Private

Cost to attend for four years: $48,200

ROI after 20 years: $468,000

Elizabeth City State University

Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Type of school: Public

Cost to attend for four years (for in-state students): $53,900

ROI after 20 years: $26,000

East Central University

Location: Ada, Oklahoma

Type of school: Public

Cost to attend for four years (for in-state students): $57,900

ROI after 20 years: $183,000

Fayetteville State University

Location: Fayetteville, North Carolina

Type of school: Public

Cost to attend for four years (for in-state students): $59,800

ROI after 20 years: $29,500

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Location: Alva, Oklahoma

Type of school: Public

Cost to attend for four years (for in-state students): $60,700

ROI after 20 years: $121,000

Cameron University

Location: Lawton, Oklahoma

Type of school: Public

Cost to attend for four years (for in-state students): $61,700

ROI after 20 years: $161,000

Northeastern State University

Location: Natchitoches, Louisiana

Type of school: Public

Cost to attend for four years (for in-state students): $62,200

ROI after 20 years: $162,000

Middle Georgia State University

Location: Macon, Georgia

Type of school: Public

Cost to attend for four years (for in-state students): $62,500

ROI after 20 years: $245,000

Rust College

Location: Holly Springs, Mississippi

Type of school: Private

Cost to attend for four years: $63,400

ROI after 20 years: -$97,100

(According to PayScale, attending this college does not provide a positive return on investment.)

Missouri Southern State University

Location: Joplin, Missouri

Type of school: Public

Cost to attend for four years (for in-state students): $63,600

ROI after 20 years: $161,000

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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