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Georgia Tech again among top colleges in country for student return on investment released its annual list of top  colleges based on students' return on their tuition investment, and Georgia Tech is again among the top 10 on the list of public and private institutions nationwide.

The University of Georgia ranks 330 for those students who pay in-state tuition.  (If you pay out-of-state tuition, the ranks drops to 554, tying with the University of Tennessee.) For students paying in-state tuition, Georgia State University ranks 512.

In explaining its list, PayScale notes:

With the average college student graduating with almost $30K in student loans, prospective college students, parents and policymakers are all trying to better understand the value of college education in the job market. This isn't to say that students should only pursue majors with the highest earning potential or make decisions about where to attend school based solely off College ROI Report rankings.

However, we currently have 18-year-olds signing on the dotted line for student loans they're not even certain they can pay back. Access to data showing how other alumni following a similar path have fared in the job market is critical to ensuring students are making financial decisions that make sense.

No matter how you look at it, college is an investment -- both of time and money. The benefit to this particular investment is that there are returns far beyond the obvious monetary ones. However, the financial aspects of evaluating college return on investment cannot be ignored. And, some schools are simply doing a better job of setting their alumni up for success in the job market. Whether you're planning to study computer science or psychology, earning potential in your chosen field, along with the cost of attendance for the schools you're considering, should be part of the equation when whittling down your list of best return on investment colleges.

The site has a handy search tool so you can go to the list and plug in the college your child is considering.

Here is an official statement from about its ROI report:

The top schools overall for college return on investment (not taking into account financial aid) are Harvey Mudd College, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and Stevens Institute of Technology. When you factor in financial aid, Stanford comes in at #3 and bumps Stevens Institute of Technology into the #4 spot.

Engineering schools continue to dominate the top of the list. The schools ranked 1 through 4, overall, and 7 out of the top 10 schools, are engineering schools.

The average 20-Year Net ROI for engineering schools is $677,500 while For Profit, Liberal Arts, Religious, Art, and Music & Design Schools all have an average 20-Year Net ROI of less than $250,000. Ivy League schools have the second highest average 20-Year Net ROI at $649,900.

The average 20-Year Net ROI for Party Schools, as defined by The Princeton Review, was slightly higher than the average for Sober Schools ($354,400 vs. $336,000).

Alumni who majored in engineering, computer science & math or business fields or ended up working in business/finance or computer and math careers have the best chance of seeing a 20-Year Net ROI above $1 million.

State Schools dominate the list when sorted by 20-year Annualized ROI % which is indicative of their relative low cost when compared to Private Schools. Thirty-seven out of the top 40 schools, overall, for Annualized ROI have four-year on campus costs below $100,000. Brigham Young University (BYU), a private school, is the exception to the rule, ranking second overall on Annualized ROI. The average 20-year Annualized ROI of the included schools is 8.94%.

Ivy League alumni typically have lower-than-average student loan debt upon graduation but a 20 year net ROI above the 75th percentile. Columbia University is the exception with higher-than-average student loan debt of $32,720.

However, the 20-year Net ROI is still very high for Columbia at $591,400. The percentage of students receiving loans at the Ivies is relatively small (only 6 percent for Yale and 9 percent for both Princeton and Harvard). The typical time to graduation for all Ivy League schools is the standard 4 years.

The 20-year Annualized ROI for both Apple (24.8%) and Microsoft (15.2%) beat out the Annualized ROI for all schools included in the report.

More than 88 percent of schools included in the report have a 20-year Annualized ROI higher than US Treasury Bonds (2.5%), but only 24 percent of schools included have an Annualized ROI higher than the S&P 500 (7.8%).

All public Engineering schools included in the report have a 20-year Annualized ROI above the Vanguard Total Stock Index (9.8%) while all private Engineering schools have an Annualized ROI that falls below it.

Texas, California, and Washington have the highest average percentage of alumni who stay and work in the state after graduation at 85%, 84%, and 78%, respectively. Vermont has the lowest average percentage of alumni who stay in the state at 19%.

NOTE: All 20-year Annualized ROI percentages for stocks are adjusted for dividends and splits.


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.