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Colleges With The Highest Return On Investment: PayScale Report

First Posted: 04/08/11 09:54 AM ET   Updated: 06/08/11 06:12 AM ET

Which colleges are worth their often more than $200,000 price tag?

According to PayScale.com's annual survey of college return on investment rates, the California Institute of Technology is the school that ends up paying its students the most in lifetime dividends.

The bastion of technology, with a sticker price of $198,700, boasts a 12.2% annual return on investment and promises more than $1.7 million in return to its grads over 30 years.

PayScale culled data from 1.4 million pay reports from persons who obtained bachelors degrees in the last 20 years. BusinessWeek has more on PayScale's unique methodology:


Like many ROI models, to calculate the cost of a college degree it includes all college expenses--tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies. But instead of assuming students all graduate in the standard four years, it multiplies those expenses for however long it took 2010 graduates of each school to obtain their degrees, whether in four years, six years, or something in between. Unlike many ROI calculations that reckon the value of a degree, the PayScale analysis tots up the return on a college investment, over and above what a high school graduate would earn during the same period. When someone attends college but fails to graduate, there's an investment but little or no financial return, so the PayScale analysis incorporates graduation rates, in effect adjusting the return for the risk of not graduating. How big is that risk? On average, two of every five students who entered the colleges in the ranking never participated in commencement.

Below, see the 15 colleges with the highest return on investment. See PayScale's complete methodology here, and a full chart of ROI rates here.

Did your college make the cut? What do you think of this report? Weigh in below.


California Institute of Technology
1 of 16
2010 cost: $198,700
30-year net return on investment: $1,713,000
Annual return on investment: 12.2%
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Filed by Leah Finnegan  |