In doing some research this week, I came across Payscale.com’s annual ranking of what a college costs and the return on that cost as reflected in lifetime earnings.
The rankings came out earlier this year, but I thought they were worth sharing. The ranking goes all the way from 1 to 1,248 — and a Georgia school landed the last spot.
But let’s start with the happier news first: The biggest payback in Georgia comes from a Georgia Tech undergrad degree, which has a better return on lifetime investment rate than degrees from Brown, Yale, Amherst, Georgetown, UVA, Vanderbilt, Williams or Emory. (Lifetime was defined as a career span of 30 years.)
Georgia Tech ranks 17th on the national list for return on investment rate among in-state students. (The return is slightly less for out-of-state students who pay higher tuition. Even for those students, Tech is the gift that keeps on giving, ranking 26th in return on the investment rate on the Payscale list.)
If you are wondering why Tech grads get so much back for their tuition investment, take a glance at Payscale’s list of highest-paying college undergraduate majors.
Six of the top 10 are engineering. The other four are math and computer science. (I have also written about Georgetown’s research in this same area. Both Payscale.com and the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found the highest-earning undergrad degree today is petroleum engineering.)
In explaining its annual Return on Investment listing, Payscale states: With all of the expense and time required to attend college, does earning a degree pay off long-term? Yes, depending on which school you choose. PayScale has ranked more than 850 U.S. colleges (for both in and out-of-state tuition when applicable) by their college tuition ROI – what you pay to attend versus what you get back in lifetime earnings.
(The site addresses critics of the 2012 rankings by explaining its methodology in detail here. Payscale explains: We calculate median pay for a school’s alumni by utilizing profiles in our database for bachelor’s degree graduates from that school. We are not using industry averages nor alumni data provided by the schools. Rather, we use data provided directly by alumni.)
The University of Georgia ranks 243 on the list, still a very good return on investment rate. Georgia State ranks 531 North Georgia College ranks 831. Georgia Southern ranks 935. Georgia College & State University ranks 971.
Georgia has a school in the bottom five for return on investment over a 30-year career. Savannah College of Art and Design earned the 1,248th — and last — spot on the list. According to Payscale’s research, graduates end up losing money on their tuition investment. SCAD has faulted the ranking, countering that its undergraduate and graduate interior design programs have won national acclaim and that all of its graduates have great success in securing jobs in their fields.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog