CUNY City College Tops the List for Best ROI in Higher Education

Is College Worth the Investment?

As many firms drop degree requirements from their job descriptions, prospective students may be asking themselves: is college really worth the investment?

CUNY City College Tops the List

A new report by found that CUNY City College in New York offered the best return on investment of any of the 400 universities and colleges researchers assessed.

CUNY’s Unique Advantage

However, CUNY’s number one ranking was largely driven by the low cost of studying there – rather than the impressive salaries of its graduates.

The sticker price for a CUNY degree is $30,721 on average. But for students who qualify for federal aid, this number is slashed to $2,805 per year.

Graduates from the college then go on to earn $55,741 ten years after enrollment on average, the study noted.

Researchers found on average it would take a graduate less than six months to pay off their degree when earning this salary.

MIT and University of Florida Follow

It was followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Florida where graduates can expect to earn $111,222 and $64,463 on average ten years after enrollment.

But their upfront costs were much higher:

MIT students pay $16,407 per year – even after taking into account federal aid – while those in Florida shell out an annual fee of $5,135.

Researchers said it would take an MIT graduate could expect to pay off their loan in under a year, based on their salary after ten years.

Ivy League Schools in the Mix

Princeton came in fourth place – making it the highest-ranking Ivy League school. Graduates can expect to earn $95,689 a year after ten years of enrollment.

On this salary, they would wipe their debt clean in under a year. Similarly, Stanford and Harvard graduates can earn $97,798 and $84,918, respectively, ten years after enrollment.

Calculating Loan Payback

To assess how long it would take for a graduate to pay back their loan, researchers multiplied the average annual cost by the time it takes most students to complete their degree.

They then divided the total cost of the school by the extra money a graduate makes compared to a non-graduate.

The Future of Higher Education

David Levy, an author at, said students are now ‘carefully considering’ whether a university degree is still worth the high fees.

He said: ‘As higher education institutes adjust their tuition fees with each passing year, it will be interesting to see whether they can continue to justify these higher prices by guaranteeing a return on investment for their students over the course of their careers.’

Changing Trends in the Job Market

The findings come after Walmart announced it is eliminating college degrees as a requirement for hundreds of its corporate roles.

Walmart said it will waive the need for a university degree if candidates can show they have gained the necessary skills through alternative prior experience.

The move is part of a wider trend in the US jobs market. American companies like IBM, Accenture, and Google have announced measures to reduce the number of jobs that require degrees.

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