The average US student today is graduating with $39,400 in student-loan debt, an enormous sum, particularly for liberal arts grads with few reliable employment options allowing them to earn more than $30,000 a year right out of school. The aggregate figure is even more egregious: Nationally, students owe more than $1.4 trillion on their loans, nearly 50% more than all credit card debt in the US. Given this enormous sum, Brookings Institute projects that nearly 40% of student loan borrowers will default by 2023. And yet, most Americans still believe that college is a sound investment.
But students who bother to conduct an ROI analysis will find that the return on a degree varies widely depending on the school. Which is why, in a recent study, HowMuch.com and Payscale decided to calculate the schools with the best 20-year ROI in each state. Many of the names may not be widely familiar to people - and some might be downright surprising (particularly the winner for Connecticut, where the Coast Guard Academy beat out Yale). Indeed, across the US, technical colleges and military academies appear to outrank big-name schools at every turn.
In its analysis, HowMuch and Payscale factored in the cost of tuition, the average student debt, the typical length of time to graduate and the graduation rate. They then compared the 20-year ROI for the school with the 20-year ROI for somebody who skipped college to start a career out of high school.
Here's the full list of schools with the highest ROI in each state: