50 Top Ranked Colleges That Pay Off the Least

Print Email

The typical young college graduate earned about $50,000 in 2016, well above the typical recent high school graduate’s earnings of $31,800 a year. For those who can afford it, college is a good investment. But not all colleges are the same, and graduates of some institutions are less likely to see the same high return from their years of study and their money spent.

24/7 Wall st. reviewed Department of Education data on the typical expected earnings for students graduating from U.S. News and World Report’s top-ranked colleges and universities. We listed the 50 schools where the expected annual earnings for a graduate was the smallest compared to the overall cost of annual attendance.

The vast majority of the postsecondary institutions to make this list are small, private, liberal arts colleges with hefty price tags. These are schools where the average annual cost of attendance, when accounting for tuition, fees, living expenses, and supplies, is well above $50,000, and in some cases over $60,000 a year. Typical graduates of these school are expected to earn in some cases less than $30,000 annually 10 years out of school, even as those from other schools can expect to earn over twice as much.

In an exchange with 24/7 Wall St. Tom Snyder, director of annual reports and information staff at the National Center for Education Statistics, explained that the choice of major can have a significant impact on expected incomes of colleges graduates.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

50. Hartwick College
> Graduate median earnings after 10 years: $42,800
> Average annual cost of attendance: $51,932
> Location: Oneonta, NY
> Undergraduate enrollment: 1,396

Source: The Good Doctor / Flickr

49. Whittier College
> Graduate median earnings after 10 years: $43,100
> Average annual cost of attendance: $52,570
> Location: Whittier, CA
> Undergraduate enrollment: 1,615

Source: cogdog / Flickr

48. College of Wooster
> Graduate median earnings after 10 years: $45,400
> Average annual cost of attendance: $55,500
> Location: Wooster, OH
> Undergraduate enrollment: 2,003

Source: roanokecollege / Wikimedia Commons

47. Roanoke College
> Graduate median earnings after 10 years: $43,000
> Average annual cost of attendance: $52,588
> Location: Salem, VA
> Undergraduate enrollment: 1,992

Source: Amanda / Flickr

46. Sewanee–University of the South
> Graduate median earnings after 10 years: $40,600
> Average annual cost of attendance: $49,700
> Location: Sewanee, TN
> Undergraduate enrollment: 1,731