Private colleges with the best return on investment

For high school graduates, choosing the right college can be one of the most important decisions in their lives. For many graduates, the college experience is the first step to figuring out who you are as an adult, and what you will do with the rest of your life. It can be a daunting decision.

On top of emotional investment, enrollment in a private college can be a financial investment, as well. American private colleges can be among the most-expensive higher learning institutions in the world. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average total for tuition and fees at private universities for 2019–2020 was $36,801. Many universities are much more expensive. Harvey Mudd College, for example, cost nearly $80,000 for the 2019–2020 year, according to CNBC. Making such a large investment in education and the future can be a reach for many students, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Stacker compiled a list of the private colleges with the best return on investment using a study by Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah, and Martin Van Der Werf at Georgetown University. Nonprofit private colleges that primarily issue bachelor’s degrees were considered. Colleges are ranked by the highest 40-year ROI, with ties broken by 10-year ROI.

Considering your college’s ROI factors in tuition and living expenses, student fees, food, and transportation, among others. This is matched up against prospective careers and salary expectations and potential earnings over at least 30 years.

Investing in yourself and in your future is never the wrong move, but you want to make sure it’s an investment that will help you get where you’re going.

Whether you’re considering any of the private colleges on this list, or you graduated from college many decades ago, keep reading to discover the private colleges in America with the best return on investment.

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#100. New York University

– 40-year NPV: $1,209,000
– 10-year NPV: $49,000
– Graduation rate: 84%
– Median debt: $20,500

New York University is a private institution located in New York City. The primary campus is in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, and the university has several smaller schools and colleges that cater to different specialties. It’s ranked the 29th university in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,213,000
– 10-year NPV: $83,000
– Graduation rate: 56%
– Median debt: $19,400

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– 40-year NPV: $1,215,000
– 10-year NPV: $109,000
– Graduation rate: 94%
– Median debt: $13,750

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– 40-year NPV: $1,216,000
– 10-year NPV: $76,000
– Graduation rate: 80%
– Median debt: $26,000

Just 25 miles from Boston, Stonehill College is about more than academic performance. The school strongly encourages community service, social justice, and leadership. Ninety-four percent of its students receive grants to attend and there is a 72% acceptance rate, according to Money.com.

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#96. Tulane University of Louisiana

– 40-year NPV: $1,217,000
– 10-year NPV: $61,000
– Graduation rate: 83%
– Median debt: $22,000

Tulane University, located in the heart of New Orleans, has a well-respected law school and a School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, according to U.S. News. More than 200 student organizations exist on campus, and the student experience is well-rounded between academic learning and the immersive, cultural experience that is New Orleans.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,217,000
– 10-year NPV: $79,000
– Graduation rate: 92%
– Median debt: $11,944

Haverford College is a small university located in Pennsylvania. Its students often score in the 25th to 75th percentile on their SATs and the university has an acceptance rate of 16%, according to The Princeton Review. The student-to-faculty ratio is only 9-to-1, while 15-to-1 is considered a low ratio nationally, according to the Open Education Database.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,219,000
– 10-year NPV: $130,000
– Graduation rate: 90%
– Median debt: $17,799

Forbes reports that Colby College is the 12th-oldest private liberal arts college in the country. What makes it stand out is its signature “Jan Plan,” which is a term that starts in January where students take time for focused learning, whether it’s study abroad, taking courses in socially-responsible business, or getting involved with internships or research. Ninety percent of the student body do four Jan Plans while enrolled, though the requirement is only three.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,220,000
– 10-year NPV: $94,000
– Graduation rate: 83%
– Median debt: $17,500

The University of Miami is a private research university with more than 17,000 students from around the world. According to Niche, the most popular majors among its students are finance, nursing, economics, and psychology. The university has a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

– 40-year NPV: $1,220,000
– 10-year NPV: $122,000
– Graduation rate: 59%
– Median debt: $15,000

Located in Wisconsin, Bellin College is one of the top health-care colleges in the country, with a focus on nursing, radiation therapy, and radiologic sciences, among others. Its Health Sciences Resource Center offers labs and technology across a variety of medical specialties.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,227,000
– 10-year NPV: $123,000
– Graduation rate: 93%
– Median debt: $16,489

Ranked as the 17th-best national liberal arts college in America, Davidson College strives for its students to be involved in campus life. There are more than 200 student organizations on campus, as well as sports and Greek life. There are more than 20 undergraduate degrees, and according to the U.S. News & World Report, the college was the first in the country to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving students the chance to graduate without debt.

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#90. University of Rochester

– 40-year NPV: $1,228,000
– 10-year NPV: $81,000
– Graduation rate: 85%
– Median debt: $21,500

Ranked as the 29th-best school in the country by U.S. News & World Report, University of Rochester is known for its research facilities, as well as no general education requirements. Its special curriculum, known as the “Rochester Curriculum,” allows students to develop their own course and to choose a major plus a “cluster” of three thematically-related courses.”

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– 40-year NPV: $1,228,000
– 10-year NPV: $115,000
– Graduation rate: 40%
– Median debt: $15,625

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#88. Southern Methodist University

– 40-year NPV: $1,229,000
– 10-year NPV: $91,000
– Graduation rate: 80%
– Median debt: $18,250

Southern Methodist university has a student body of 12,000 from all over the world. The Dallas-based university is highly regarded for its Cox School of Business, as well as its law school. It has an intimate student-faculty ratio of 11-to-1 and more than 58% of its classes have fewer than 20 students, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,231,000
– 10-year NPV: $142,000
– Graduation rate: 95%
– Median debt: $11,700

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– 40-year NPV: $1,233,000
– 10-year NPV: $69,000
– Graduation rate: 82%
– Median debt: $27,000

Syracuse University is a private research university, founded in 1870 in upstate New York. Today the university has 13 schools and colleges. Ranked 54th among Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, more than 60% of the university’s classes have fewer than 20 students. During the 2018-2019 year, 76% of undergraduate students received some form of financial support, the majority of which was in the form of grants and scholarships.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,241,000
– 10-year NPV: $113,000
– Graduation rate: 93%
– Median debt: $16,565

Founded in 1812, Hamilton College is a small liberal arts college with a typical enrollment of less than 2,000 people. Its bucolic campus spans about 1,300 acres. One of the big selling points about Hamilton is its study abroad program. About two-thirds of the student body participate in off-campus study, in more than 100 international programs plus domestic programs in three East Coast cities.

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#84. Mount Carmel College of Nursing

– 40-year NPV: $1,241,000
– 10-year NPV: $160,000
– Graduation rate: 73%
– Median debt: $20,251

Mount Carmel College of Nursing is a small college in Ohio with an enrollment of under 1,000. It’s a competitive program with an acceptance rate of 78%. According to Niche, alumni from Mount Carmel Nursing go on to earn a starting salary of $55,500.

#83. Saint John’s University

– 40-year NPV: $1,247,000
– 10-year NPV: $111,000
– Graduation rate: 76%
– Median debt: $25,000

St. John’s University is a Catholic university with campuses all over New York City, as well as Italy, France, and Ireland. The graduation rate is 76%, and of those who graduate, more than 94% achieve job placement. More than 75% of graduates find employment in their desired field.

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#82. Quinnipiac University

– 40-year NPV: $1,251,000
– 10-year NPV: $65,000
– Graduation rate: 77%
– Median debt: $21,500

With more than 50 undergraduate programs, Quinnipiac University offers a diverse program for its medium-sized body of students. Niche reports that 97% of its students are employed within two years of graduation.

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#81. Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences

– 40-year NPV: $1,251,000
– 10-year NPV: $183,000
– Graduation rate: 72%
– Median debt: $28,121

Students interested in health sciences, particularly nursing, will find a diverse and comprehensive environment at Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences. The college works in partnership with Baptist Memorial Health Care, which gives students real-world experience. In 2019, 97% of graduates from the nursing program had employment within a year of graduating.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,253,000
– 10-year NPV: $119,000
– Graduation rate: 73%
– Median debt: $23,000

Founded in 1955, Molloy College is a private liberal arts school in Long Island, offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees. The total graduate cohort average full-time starting salary in 2019 was $61,387.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,257,000
– 10-year NPV: $56,000
– Graduation rate: 84%
– Median debt: $27,000

Providence College consists of four separate schools: School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Professional Studies, and School of Continuing Education. The top majors are finance, marketing, and biology, and the student-faculty ratio is small, compared to the national average, at 12:1.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,258,000
– 10-year NPV: $119,000
– Graduation rate: 90%
– Median debt: $9,675

Ranked #3 in the country among liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report, Wellesley College is one of original Seven Sisters Colleges in America created as colleges for women. With alumni like former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, it’s easy to assess the college’s caliber. Money.com reports that early career earnings for Wellesley College graduates is $56,600.

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#77. University of San Francisco

– 40-year NPV: $1,259,000
– 10-year NPV: $91,000
– Graduation rate: 75%
– Median debt: $21,953

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#76. Rochester Institute of Technology

– 40-year NPV: $1,260,000
– 10-year NPV: $91,000
– Graduation rate: 66%
– Median debt: $24,250

Graduates from the Rochester Institute of Technology hold a valuable degree. That’s because the university has a pretty low acceptance rate, at 66%. But for those who complete the program, they’re rewarded with a median starting salary of $46,500, which is $20,000 above the national median, according to Niche. Two years after graduation, 93% of students have found employment.

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#75. Brigham Young University-Provo

– 40-year NPV: $1,275,000
– 10-year NPV: $156,000
– Graduation rate: 83%
– Median debt: $8,093

Brigham Young University-Provo, located in Provo, Utah, is a universe founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to U.S. News & World Report, the specialty of the school is languages, and it offers courses in 62 different ones. The cost of education is incredibly low, compared to other private universities in the United States at less than $6,000 a year. The school can afford to charge so little because it is subsidized by the church, which covers more than half of the operating costs.

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#74. Marquette University

– 40-year NPV: $1,280,000
– 10-year NPV: $107,000
– Graduation rate: 80%
– Median debt: $24,250

Marquette University, located in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a mid-size university with more than 8,500 undergraduate students. There are 83 possible majors, and pre-professional programs for aspiring dentists, lawyers, and doctors. Within a year of graduating, more than 70% of students are employed full time. The majority of the rest have gone on to grad school or are part of a stipend-paid post-graduate service. Less than 5% are still looking for jobs.

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#73. Wake Forest University

– 40-year NPV: $1,282,000
– 10-year NPV: $86,000
– Graduation rate: 88%
– Median debt: $22,750

#72. Capitol Technology University

– 40-year NPV: $1,288,000
– 10-year NPV: $90,000
– Graduation rate: 52%
– Median debt: $16,625

Capitol Technology University, located in Maryland, has a limited acceptance rate of 69%. According to The Economist, schools that focus on math and sciences have graduates that go on to earn high salaries. In particular, it singled out Capitol Technology University. Niche reports that within two years, alumni go on to earn $47,900. Six years of graduating, the median earning is $63,900

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– 40-year NPV: $1,294,000
– 10-year NPV: $70,000
– Graduation rate: 87%
– Median debt: $23,500

Boston University has turned out some seriously-impressive alumni, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Karen Lynch and Julianne Moore. The Boston institution reports that 96% of graduates find employment or placement in graduate programs, military service, or fellowships within six months. The graduates of Boston University have landed careers at jobs like Apple, Deloitte, Google, Tesla, U.S. Department of State, among others.

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#70. Wentworth Institute of Technology

– 40-year NPV: $1,299,000
– 10-year NPV: $79,000
– Graduation rate: 66%
– Median debt: $22,500

Boston’s Wentworth Institute of Technology is a small school with an enrollment of just over 4,000. The school presents a rigorous and challenging program, with a graduation rate of 67%. According to Indeed, the most popular degrees are engineering, business/marketing, and computer sciences.

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#69. Pepperdine University

– 40-year NPV: $1,312,000
– 10-year NPV: $85,000
– Graduation rate: 86%
– Median debt: $24,250

Pepperdine is one of the more exclusive schools in the nation, with a 40% acceptance rate and an enrollment of just over 3,500. It consists of five different schools, focusing on business, education and psychology, law, liberal arts, and public policy. More than 84% of students enhance their education through student employment, teaching, and internships, according to Forbes.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,317,000
– 10-year NPV: $91,000
– Graduation rate: 86%
– Median debt: $23,000

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#67. University of Richmond

– 40-year NPV: $1,317,000
– 10-year NPV: $108,000
– Graduation rate: 88%
– Median debt: $19,500

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– 40-year NPV: $1,322,000
– 10-year NPV: $130,000
– Graduation rate: 91%
– Median debt: $15,500

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#65. Ohio Northern University

– 40-year NPV: $1,326,000
– 10-year NPV: $136,000
– Graduation rate: 77%
– Median debt: $24,466

Ohio Northern University is made up of five colleges dedicated to arts & sciences, business administration, engineering, pharmacy, and law. PayScale reports that Ohio Northern University graduates make an average salary of $69,141, with an early career salary of $54,400.

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#64. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona

– 40-year NPV: $1,327,000
– 10-year NPV: $86,000
– Graduation rate: 57%
– Median debt: $12,250

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona is a specialized school that focuses on seven primary fields of study, including aviation, applied science, technology, engineering, and space. PayScale ranks Embry-Riddle 92nd in the country for return on investment, with an annual ROI of 7.2%. Average salaries for graduates are $81,747.

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#63. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

– 40-year NPV: $1,328,000
– 10-year NPV: $87,000
– Graduation rate: 61%
– Median debt: $12,250

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has a campus in Arizona, as well, which offers a similar return on investment to the Daytona campus. According to PayScale, the Prescott campus has an annual ROI of 7.2% and an early career salary of $65,600.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,333,000
– 10-year NPV: $115,000
– Graduation rate: 73%
– Median debt: $21,500

Manhattan College alumni are in a great position once they have that piece of paper in their hand. The average mid-career salary for Manhattan College is $125,700, and 87% go on to work in their desired field. With New York City as its backdrop, there is no shortage of opportunity for hands-on experience. In fact, 83% of students gain job-related experience while attending.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,335,000
– 10-year NPV: $96,000
– Graduation rate: 83%
– Median debt: $19,000

Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, is a small liberal arts college with just over 2,000 undergraduates. A recent study from 2018 showed that 87% of graduates had a 95.2% positive outcome rate in achieving their graduation goals, whether that was employment, graduate studies, the military, or others.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,343,000
– 10-year NPV: $125,000
– Graduation rate: 94%
– Median debt: $12,000

Amherst College, located in bucolic Amherst, Massachusetts, is traditionally ranked as one of the elite small colleges in the country. There are no required courses, which gives students greater control over designing their own curricula. Amherst also pledges to meet each of its students’ financial needs. According to Money.com, about 70% of the class of 2018 graduated without loan debt.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,350,000
– 10-year NPV: $122,000
– Graduation rate: 95%
– Median debt: $16,778

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#58. Loyola University Maryland

– 40-year NPV: $1,363,000
– 10-year NPV: $86,000
– Graduation rate: 82%
– Median debt: $26,511

Loyola University Maryland is a Jesuit university, and was the first higher learning institution in the U.S. to be founded by the Society of Jesus. The liberal arts university has an undergraduate enrollment of under 4,000. In 2019, PayScale ranked the university in the top 7% of U.S. universities for mid-career salary potential.

– 40-year NPV: $1,372,000
– 10-year NPV: $135,000
– Graduation rate: 91%
– Median debt: $18,222

Emory University fosters a competitive academic environment, rounded out with athletic opportunities and the culture of Atlanta. Ninety-one percent of graduates from Emory College were employed within three months of graduation. For the School of Nursing, 96% percent passed the nursing board exam on the first try. Finally, 96% of graduates from the business school had an offer within three months of graduating.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,374,000
– 10-year NPV: $84,000
– Graduation rate: 70%
– Median debt: $20,500

Drexel University is one of the largest private universities in the country. It has approximately 25,000 students enrolled. Upon graduation, 96% of Drexel undergraduates have a job or are enrolled in a graduate program after graduation. Sixty-four percent of job applicants had at least one job offer after graduating.

– 40-year NPV: $1,377,000
– 10-year NPV: $112,000
– Graduation rate: 95%
– Median debt: $15,439

Rhode Island’s Brown University is one of the most prestigious institutions in the country—it’s in the Ivy League, after all. Students love it for the unadulterated academic freedom, with few to no course requirements. Grades are optional, as well, which is another student favorite. PayScale reports that graduates make an average of 65,400 annually in the first three years after graduation.

#54. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science

– 40-year NPV: $1,378,000
– 10-year NPV: $161,000
– Graduation rate: 86%
– Median debt: $10,000

Cooper Union for The Advancement of Science and Art is an incredibly unique higher learning institution in New York’s East Village. It focuses on art, architecture, and engineering, and is one of the most exclusive schools in the country; it has an acceptance rate of just 16%, says U.S. News & World Report. This elite group of graduates are usually successful right out of the gate, with an early career salary average of $71,600, according to PayScale.

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#53. Northeastern University

– 40-year NPV: $1,385,000
– 10-year NPV: $122,000
– Graduation rate: 87%
– Median debt: $25,000

Northeastern University’s claim to fame is its Cooperative Education program, an experiential learning program that alternates semesters of study with full-time work. The real-life experience certainly pays off. Graduates have a median early career salary of $62,500, according to PayScale.

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#52. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

– 40-year NPV: $1,391,000
– 10-year NPV: $151,000
– Graduation rate: 25%
– Median debt: $12,250

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– 40-year NPV: $1,393,000
– 10-year NPV: $94,000
– Graduation rate: 78%
– Median debt: $26,000

Bryant University sets itself apart by combining business with liberal arts, requiring its students to complete a major and a minor: one in liberal arts and one in business. Its students participate in internships with a variety of high-profile firms, from Fortune 500 companies to government agencies, as well as international nonprofits. Niche reports that 97% of students are employed within two years of graduation.

– 40-year NPV: $1,393,000
– 10-year NPV: $167,000
– Graduation rate: 92%
– Median debt: $10,000

Rice University is one of the most prestigious universities in the South, with an acceptance rate of only 9%. It may not be a traditional Ivy League school, but according to Paper City magazine, its graduates are doing a lot better than those on the East Coast. Rice grads are cashing in the 18th-largest paychecks in the country.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,409,000
– 10-year NPV: $123,000
– Graduation rate: 89%
– Median debt: $22,500

Lafayette College is a small liberal arts school located in Pennsylvania. With less than 3,000 students, the tight-knit community focuses on a variety of majors, from engineering and science to liberal arts. Money.com reports that alumni do exceptionally well in the workforce, averaging about 7% more in annual salary than graduates from other similar institutions.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,417,000
– 10-year NPV: $90,000
– Graduation rate: 89%
– Median debt: $25,250

Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University is an elite liberal arts college with a small student body—less than 4,000 students. The university prides itself on small, faculty-taught classes. Its students reap the benefits, as 96% of graduates secured opportunities within nine months.

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#47. George Washington University

– 40-year NPV: $1,418,000
– 10-year NPV: $114,000
– Graduation rate: 82%
– Median debt: $21,500

Located in Washington, D.C., George Washington University has approximately 11,000 undergrads. Its biggest programs are international affairs, political science, and business. According to the university’s career services, 92% of undergraduates secured plans within six months of graduation, with 40% earning more than $60,000 as a starting salary.

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#46. University of Chicago

– 40-year NPV: $1,420,000
– 10-year NPV: $144,000
– Graduation rate: 94%
– Median debt: $14,853

The University of Chicago is one of the most selective in the country. In fact, U.S. News & World Report says the acceptance rate is only 7%. The university is notoriously tough on grades, but there is a 94% graduation rate. PayScale reports that the median early career salary is $66,000.

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#45. College of the Holy Cross

– 40-year NPV: $1,421,000
– 10-year NPV: $90,000
– Graduation rate: 92%
– Median debt: $27,000

One of New England’s top Jesuit colleges, College of the Holy Cross promises to meet 100% of the demonstrated need of its students. Perhaps that’s why its students are among the most motivated in the country, with a mean early career salary of $62,800.

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#44. Washington University in St Louis

– 40-year NPV: $1,448,000
– 10-year NPV: $134,000
– Graduation rate: 94%
– Median debt: $18,500

Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university, popular for engineering, social sciences, and business. Plus its location within St. Louis means students have ample opportunity for culture and a social life. Mean early career salaries for graduates is $64,800, and the university has a graduation rate of 93%.

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#43. Fairfield University

– 40-year NPV: $1,454,000
– 10-year NPV: $103,000
– Graduation rate: 82%
– Median debt: $23,000

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#42. Northwestern University

– 40-year NPV: $1,455,000
– 10-year NPV: $162,000
– Graduation rate: 94%
– Median debt: $16,500

Ranked by Niche as the best college in Illinois, Northwestern University is a mid-size school with an enrollment of around 8,000 students. Popular majors include economics, psychology, and journalism. Starting salary for graduates is $58,900.

#41. Illinois Institute of Technology

– 40-year NPV: $1,462,000
– 10-year NPV: $167,000
– Graduation rate: 72%
– Median debt: $22,500

Illinois Institute of Technology is one of the country’s leaders in tech studies. Top majors include aerospace engineering, artificial intelligence, and astrophysics, among others. Mean early career salaries are $64,600, according to PayScale. The same site ranked the institute as 82nd in the country for ROI.

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#40. Vanderbilt University

– 40-year NPV: $1,462,000
– 10-year NPV: $169,000
– Graduation rate: 92%
– Median debt: $13,440

Located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University is known for its beautiful campus and its top-rated medical school. Early graduates earn a mean salary of $65,400, going on to hold professions like psychiatric nurse practitioner, software engineer, and family nurse practitioner, according to PayScale.

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#39. University of the Pacific

– 40-year NPV: $1,472,000
– 10-year NPV: $129,000
– Graduation rate: 69%
– Median debt: $20,121

– 40-year NPV: $1,476,000
– 10-year NPV: $117,000
– Graduation rate: 92%
– Median debt: $18,962

With Boston as its backyard, Boston College offers both a rigorous academic environment and a cultural experience. The Jesuit university has about 9,000 undergrads, with a 92% graduation rate. Ninety-five percent of the class of 2019 are currently employed, enrolled in graduate school, or involved in a fellowship or volunteer program.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,482,000
– 10-year NPV: $132,000
– Graduation rate: 72%
– Median debt: $24,250

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#36. Santa Clara University

– 40-year NPV: $1,493,000
– 10-year NPV: $133,000
– Graduation rate: 89%
– Median debt: $19,166

Santa Clara University in sunny Southern California fosters a competitive environment with a focus on business, social sciences, and engineering. According to PayScale’s 2018-19 College Salary Report, graduates of Santa Clara University rank in the top 1-5% of undergraduates for starting salaries. The median earnings within the first five years were $66,800.

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#35. Johns Hopkins University

– 40-year NPV: $1,508,000
– 10-year NPV: $136,000
– Graduation rate: 93%
– Median debt: $12,645

One of the primary research universities in the country, Johns Hopkins University has rigorous academic standards and an acceptance rate of 11%, according to U.S. News & World Report. A study published by The New York Times shows that the median family income of a student from Johns Hopkins is $177,300.

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#34. Claremont McKenna College

– 40-year NPV: $1,516,000
– 10-year NPV: $150,000
– Graduation rate: 91%
– Median debt: $13,000

Claremont McKenna’s students tend to have a focus on political science and economics. The student body is small, hovering at just around 1,000 students. Niche reports that 92% of students land employment within two years of graduation.

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#33. Case Western Reserve University

– 40-year NPV: $1,519,000
– 10-year NPV: $121,000
– Graduation rate: 82%
– Median debt: $22,000

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#32. University of Southern California

– 40-year NPV: $1,520,000
– 10-year NPV: $133,000
– Graduation rate: 92%
– Median debt: $21,250

University of Southern California is one of the largest private institutions in the country, with an undergraduate student body of about 20,000. The Los Angeles location puts its students at the doorstep of world-class industries and opportunities. PayScale reports that the average salary for undergraduates is $83,860.

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#31. Milwaukee School of Engineering

– 40-year NPV: $1,520,000
– 10-year NPV: $183,000
– Graduation rate: 65%
– Median debt: $25,500

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– 40-year NPV: $1,543,000
– 10-year NPV: $122,000
– Graduation rate: 93%
– Median debt: $16,052

Tufts University is one of the top universities in the country. Though not technically Ivy League, it delivers a similar quality education. Not far from Boston, the students have a campus environment with the opportunities and cultural experiences of a major city nearby. Niche reports that 92% of graduates find job placement within two years of graduating.

– 40-year NPV: $1,561,000
– 10-year NPV: $146,000
– Graduation rate: 96%
– Median debt: $12,000

Dartmouth University is a small Ivy League school located in New Hampshire. It offers a blend of research facilities and liberal arts, with the backdrop of New England beauty. Government majors seem to fare the best, according to an article in The Dartmouth, which reports that they are the highest paid among graduates with government majors at similar institutions, earning $59,000.

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#28. Villanova University

– 40-year NPV: $1,563,000
– 10-year NPV: $103,000
– Graduation rate: 90%
– Median debt: $25,000

Villanova University is the only Augustinian Catholic university in the country, and is well-regarded for its business curriculum. Villanova graduates have a 96.7% successful placement rate, and an average starting salary of $62,524.

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#27. Washington and Lee University

– 40-year NPV: $1,578,000
– 10-year NPV: $152,000
– Graduation rate: 92%
– Median debt: $19,500

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– 40-year NPV: $1,607,000
– 10-year NPV: $160,000
– Graduation rate: 94%
– Median debt: $12,305

Students enrolled in Cornell have an advantage extended to them—if they enroll in its colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Industrial and Labor Relations, or Human Ecology, they pay $15,000 less per year than those enrolled in the rest of the university. The median salary range for graduates is $63,000.

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#25. University of Notre Dame

– 40-year NPV: $1,626,000
– 10-year NPV: $157,000
– Graduation rate: 95%
– Median debt: $20,750

This highly-selective Catholic university has a student body made up of the top 10% of high school graduates. It offers rigorous curricula across a variety of majors, but is particularly known for its challenging pre-med track. That said, 87% of pre-med graduates are admitted to medical school, which is nearly double the national average.

#24. Princeton University

– 40-year NPV: $1,642,000
– 10-year NPV: $242,000
– Graduation rate: 97%
– Median debt: $7,500

Princeton University is one of the most elite schools in the country, but that doesn’t make it financially unattainable. For families with income that is less than $65,000, students qualify for a free ride. For the class of 2023, the average grant for an aid student was more than $56,000. As a result of these programs, 82% of recent graduates wound up debt-free.

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#23. Kettering University

– 40-year NPV: $1,662,000
– 10-year NPV: $153,000
– Graduation rate: 57%
– Median debt: $24,500

Kettering University is known for its unique style of teaching, which combines experiential learning opportunities with an academic program that’s hardcore, particularly in engineering, science, math, and business. As a result, its graduates earn, on average, more than any other graduates in the state of Michigan.

Colin Shipley // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

– 40-year NPV: $1,665,000
– 10-year NPV: $149,000
– Graduation rate: 82%
– Median debt: $27,000

#21. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

– 40-year NPV: $1,687,000
– 10-year NPV: $150,000
– Graduation rate: 83%
– Median debt: $27,000

Although the focus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is on science, engineering, and math, it has recently started bolstering its humanities, arts, and communication departments. PayScale reports that median starting salaries for graduates are in the top 10%, at $71,300.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,688,000
– 10-year NPV: $153,000
– Graduation rate: 87%
– Median debt: $21,500

#19. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

– 40-year NPV: $1,725,000
– 10-year NPV: $133,000
– Graduation rate: 87%
– Median debt: $27,000

Worcester Polytechnic Institute requires its undergrads to kick off their college career in the Great Problems Seminar, which is a collection of courses that link science and technology with issues regarding health, energy, transportation, and housing. According to a post-graduation report conducted by the university, the class of 2018 received $69,219 on average as a starting salary.

#18. Carnegie Mellon University

– 40-year NPV: $1,750,000
– 10-year NPV: $183,000
– Graduation rate: 89%
– Median debt: $24,500

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University is known for its programs in computer science, engineering, and technology. According to the university’s Career & Professional Development Center study, 60.9% of 2019 graduates went on to be employed, while 27.2% sought continuing education. Of those who entered the workforce, they were hired by companies like Amazon, Apple, Deloitte, Facebook, and Google.

Chadarat Saibhut // Shutterstock

– 40-year NPV: $1,754,000
– 10-year NPV: $173,000
– Graduation rate: 95%
– Median debt: $9,000

#16. Columbia University in the City of New York

– 40-year NPV: $1,769,000
– 10-year NPV: $208,000
– Graduation rate: 95%
– Median debt: $18,794

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– 40-year NPV: $1,777,000
– 10-year NPV: $218,000
– Graduation rate: 98%
– Median debt: $12,000

Yale University is an elite private institution that promises to meet the full demonstrated financial need of its students. As a result, Money.com reports that 86% of Yale graduates are debt free.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,786,000
– 10-year NPV: $158,000
– Graduation rate: 90%
– Median debt: $25,000

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#13. California Institute of Technology

– 40-year NPV: $1,810,000
– 10-year NPV: $200,000
– Graduation rate: 91%
– Median debt: $11,500

California Institute of Technology, or Caltech as it’s often called, is a leading institution for engineering and physical sciences, with an emphasis on world-class internships. PayScale ranks it fifth on its College Salary Report, with a mean early career salary of $84,100.

#12. University of Pennsylvania

– 40-year NPV: $1,832,000
– 10-year NPV: $222,000
– Graduation rate: 95%
– Median debt: $12,500

Highly selective with a rigorous academic program, University of Pennsylvania is an elite university, specifically for business and economics. According to Business Insider, graduates of the business program at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania are among the highest paid in the country.

Jeffrey Vock Photography // Shutterstock

#11. Stevens Institute of Technology

– 40-year NPV: $1,833,000
– 10-year NPV: $162,000
– Graduation rate: 83%
– Median debt: $26,000

Stevens Institute of Technology offers its students 11 core research areas across business and finance, data science, energy, sustainability, and more. The teaching style combines academic learning with real-world experience like internships, senior design projects, and entrepreneurship courses. According to the university, 96% of the class of 2018 received employment, admission to graduate school, or other first destination outcomes within six months of graduation.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,851,000
– 10-year NPV: $187,000
– Graduation rate: 95%
– Median debt: $21,254

Harvey Mudd is one of the most expensive schools to attend in the country. But what students pay for is a world-class science and engineering program. Also, graduates are among the highest earning in the country early on, with an early career salary of $85,600, according to CNBC.

#9. University of the Sciences

– 40-year NPV: $1,928,000
– 10-year NPV: $211,000
– Graduation rate: 71%
– Median debt: $27,000

With a focus in health care and science, University of the Sciences is a top university for pharmacology. According to Niche, USciences is one of the best value colleges in America, with an annual tuition of $33,070 and median six-year salary of $91,600.

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#8. Georgetown University

– 40-year NPV: $1,950,000
– 10-year NPV: $198,000
– Graduation rate: 94%
– Median debt: $14,750

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– 40-year NPV: $1,967,000
– 10-year NPV: $286,000
– Graduation rate: 97%
– Median debt: $7,000

It’s one of the most renowned institutions in the world. Harvard University has a reputation that is synonymous with excellence. It’s a university that offers help to families in need, with those who come from families earning less than $65,000 getting a free ride. Most Harvard students are without debt, and according to PayScale, the average salary for graduates is $92,032.

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– 40-year NPV: $1,985,000
– 10-year NPV: $184,000
– Graduation rate: 91%
– Median debt: $24,875

Babson College is a one-stop-shop for business. That’s because the school only offers one undergraduate degree, and that’s a B.S. in business. Monster.com places Babson College in the top six for colleges whose students get the most pay after graduation, with a median starting salary of $59,700.

Diego Grandi // Shutterstock

– 40-year NPV: $2,068,000
– 10-year NPV: $307,000
– Graduation rate: 94%
– Median debt: $10,874

Stanford University is one of the premier colleges in California, as well as the rest of the country. It is the toughest school to get into, with an acceptance rate of 4.8%. According to Forbes, Stanford is one of the top 15 colleges in the country in terms of high earnings for its graduates.

#4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

– 40-year NPV: $2,273,000
– 10-year NPV: $311,000
– Graduation rate: 93%
– Median debt: $15,346

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of the most competitive, and widely respected, science schools in the country. PayScale ranks it as the second on its College Salary Report, with a mean early career salary of $86,300.

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#3. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health

– 40-year NPV: $2,421,000
– 10-year NPV: $247,000
– Graduation rate: 76%
– Median debt: $25,000

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has been in existence for nearly 200 years. It has a relatively low tuition at less than $40,000 a year, with a high earning potential for its graduates. Niche reports median earnings of $116,000 six years after graduation, and 96% of graduates are employed within two years.

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#2. St. Louis College of Pharmacy

– 40-year NPV: $2,714,000
– 10-year NPV: $389,000
– Graduation rate: 72%
– Median debt: $19,500

Pharmacy colleges are the hidden goldmine among U.S. institutions. They offer a relatively low cost for tuition, plus high salaries for graduates. St. Louis College of Pharmacy is a small university with an enrollment of less than 400. Niche reports that the net price of tuition is $30,525, and median earnings six years after graduation are $124,100.

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#1. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health

– 40-year NPV: $2,722,000
– 10-year NPV: $385,000
– Graduation rate: 74%
– Median debt: $25,000

The best school in the country for ROI is Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. This private institution offers relatively low tuition, at $35,261, according to U.S. News & World Report. PayScale reports that the mean early career salary is $81,000, and the average is $114,906. The majority of students go on to careers as pharmacists, hospital pharmacy directors, chief operating officers, and clinical pharmacists.

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