50 Top Ranked Colleges That Pay Off the Least

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Detailed Findings and Methodology

While the group of schools considered for this article consists approximately of half universities and half liberal arts colleges, the majority of schools producing graduates earning the least are liberal arts colleges. Only 14 of the 50 listed are universities. This could result from a higher share of university students majoring in subjects such as the STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – disciplines, which often lead to higher paying jobs.

In over half of the colleges on the list the yearly tuition fees are higher than the reported median earnings of graduates. At Bennington College – which holds the number one position on this list with most graduates not even earning $25,000 a year — a year’s tuition is $25,970 more than the median earnings after attending. The most common major at this school is Visual and Performing Arts.

To identify the 50 top-ranked colleges that produce graduates that earn the least, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid that are working and not enrolled in school 10 years after entry from the U.S. Department of Education, last updated in 2017. These earnings were then compared with U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 rankings of the 206 best national universities and liberal arts colleges, with the exceptions of United States service academies and Soka University of America, New College of Florida, and Hillsdale College, for which data was not available. Tuition data is for 2016-2017 and was provided by U.S. News. The percentage of students earning over $25,000 a year 10 years after entering school was provided by the U.S. Department of Education.