Special Report

Most Expensive Colleges That Pay Off the Least

Samuel Stebbins


To identify the most expensive colleges that pay off the least, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Department of Education on median income for college alumni who took out federal loans 10 years after enrollment, which we calculated as a share of the average cost of attendance for Title IV institutions (public and private) 4-year institutions with data for median earnings and average cost. Only colleges with average tuition of $30,000 or greater and undergraduate enrollment of at least 100 were considered.

The colleges with the largest percentage gaps between median earnings and average price were considered the institutions that paid off the least. Average cost of attendance was calculated using IPEDS data on costs by institution, including tuition and fees, supplies, and financial aid. Undergraduate student enrollment came from College Navigator, a tool provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and is for the most recent year available.