09 May 2018
The website PayScale collects data on salaries for American employees and employers. Among its publications is the Return on Investment (ROI) report which ranks US colleges and universities according to the financial value of an undergraduate degree. The basic methodology is to compare the cost of attending college including wages lost with the financial rewards derived from a college education. The latter is calculated by comparing 20 years of earnings of a college graduate with 24 years earnings of high school graduates.
First place for Return on Investment goes to the United States Merchant Marine Academy, New York, a small institution with a student population of about one thousand, followed by the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, and SUNY Maritime Academy, Throggs Neck, New York. All of these except for MIT are public institutions.
The best value schools appear to be service academies or colleges with a strong emphasis on engineering and technology.
PayScale also publishes tables for various types of colleges. The top college in each of selected groups is:
Liberal Arts; US Military Academy
Engineering; US Merchant Marine Academy
Art; California College of the Arts
Business; Babson College.