College ROI: 6 Tools to Measure Your Degree Performance (2023)

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If you aregoing to college for the first timethis fall or you are a young professional facing student loans, you may be facing the cost of higher education.

According to Bloomberg, the cost of tuition has increasedexploded at 1200 percentduring the past thirty years. While your parents or grandparents could go to school and work part-time to pay the bills, this is no longer feasible for most people.

However, this does not mean that adegree is not worth the investment. according to aPew Research Center Research, the wage gap between workers with a bachelor's degree and those with only a high school diploma is greater than ever.

The difference in average annual earnings is $17,500. Over time, this difference can increase significantly. on ato studyPublished by the Center for Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, researchers concluded that the gap in lifetime wages between high school graduates and college graduates was more than $1 million.

Quick navigation:

  • Factors that affect ROI
  • Tools to evaluate your investment
  • Removing emotions from the equation

Factors that affect ROI

A college degree is an investment, and as with all businesses, it's important to understand youruniversity return on investment (ROI). There are three essential factors to consider when assessing whether your chosen degree and university is worth the money.

net cost of care

The first thing to figure out is how much you'll actually pay for school. There's the published sticker price for attending a specific school (tuition, room and board, books, and other expenses), and then there's the "net cost," which is the actual cost of college after you've claimed all federal royalties. , state and state . Institutional subsidy assistance available to families at your income level.

Most students don't pay "full shipping", so it's important to find the net cost for each school you're considering. The College Abacus is a useful tool that can give you an estimate of how much a school typically costs, based on scholarships and other offers of help.

potential debt

Once you've determined your net cost of care for four years, analyze what your actual debt load will be. Consider your complete financial aid package, including scholarships, grants and loans. In some cases, scholarships can help you avoid so much student loan debt. In others, grants barely cover books and materials, and you'll have to borrow to attend school. you can use astudent loan calculatorto see how much a loan will actually cost over the life of the loan.

Also, consider whether or not you will be able to work while attending school. In some programs, many students may have jobs. In others, the rigorous curriculum makes this impossible. Whether or not you can have a job can significantly affect your debt load.

See what your estimated monthly payment will be using our student loan calculator below.

Enter your loan informationto calculate how much you could pay

?Enter the total amount borrowed PS

?Enter your annual interest rate %


?Enter the amount of time you have to pay off your loan years

Total payment


total interest

(Video) Inside the Exhibiting Numbers: How to Measure Performance, Value and ROI

Monthly payment


CommonPSloan, you will payPSmonthly and a total ofPSin interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total ofPSover the life of the loan, assuming you make your payments in full while you're in school.

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(Video) Is Your College Degree Worth the Investment | How to Calculate the ROI of Your Degree and School

Ver:The Fear of Student Loan Debt Shouldn't Stop You from Going to School

potential earnings

While signing an IOU might seem like nothing when you're a freshman, remember that you'll be paying off these loans for a decade or more. Evaluate the starting salary for the chosen career.

According to Edvisors, a website that provides information on paying for college, a good rule of thumb is to limit your total loan to no more than one year's salary right after you finish college. Setting this limit can prevent you from being overcharged and defaulting on your loan.

There are exceptions to the rule. Forcareer trajectoryWhere pay increases can be significant, as in technology or law, it may be reasonable to take on more debt. For example, a Michigan State Universitysurveyfound that the average starting salary for an engineer is $56,000. At the other extreme, social work graduates are expected to earn around $36,000 upon graduation.

engineering studentscan afford to take out more student loans, while other careers may need to find alternatives, such asattend community college firstand then transferring to a four-year school, to minimize his debt load.

To know more:What type of college offers student loan borrowers the best possible return?

Tools to evaluate your investment

While college guides and rankings can be a good place to start the college search process, there are a growing number of tools that can help you assess the ROI of colleges and degrees that interest you.

(Video) Making College Pay

United States Department of Education

United States Department of EducationUniversity Transparency and Accessibility Centerit also provides a powerful set of tools to compare programs, costs, and student outcomes across thousands of schools. tools includecollege navigator, which provides information on school graduation, job placement, and student loan delinquency rates.

University Scorecard

Launched by the White House in 2015,University Scorecardprovides information about how much money a school's graduates earn, the average student loan debt students have, and how many students can keep their loans current.

While this is a valuable insight, one of the biggest drawbacks is that it doesn't provide graduate earnings by course: all courses are grouped into one statistic for average earnings. For a school that produces many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates, this can skew the results. Those majoring in the humanities or social sciences may earn substantially less than the school-wide average.

The College Scorecard is also aimed at full-time traditional students, so non-traditional students, such as adult learners, may find the information inaccurate.

pay scale

pay scaleis a popular tool that lists schools by their potential salary. The PayScale report is compiled by surveying over 1,000 schools and determining average alumni earnings. Data are collected from self-reported surveys. PayScale is one of the few sites to include mid-career average data, giving you an idea of ​​what to expect as your career progresses.

While PayScale can be a useful tool during your investigation, it does have limitations. For example, as it is based on self-reported data, there is no guarantee of accuracy in the results. It also oversamples young professionals with recent college degrees, who are more likely to use salary calculators. This can skew the results because older and higher-earning workers are underrepresented.

Finally, PayScale makes no distinction between graduate and undergraduate degrees. If those with master's degrees share their salaries, it can increase the average salary of their alma mater.

university measures

College Measures, a division of the American Research Institutes (AIR), is working with several state governments to help college students and their families identify fields of study and careers that will yield a high return on investment. The group says its "work focuses on the best jobs that present the best opportunities for students to launch exciting careers and the important skills students need to get those jobs."

College Measures provides several websites that help high school students research colleges and careers across the state:Launch my career in Colorado,Launch my career in Tennessee, youLaunch my career in Texas.

Launch my career in Colorado

The first statewide College Measures website to take off,LaunchMyCareerColorado.orgdebuted injune 2016. The site aims to help students and families determine future salaries based on their chosen college, major, and industry. It lists high-demand job areas in the student area and provides a lifestyle calculator, allowing students to see how long it would take them in their career to reach their financial goals.

However, a problem that higher education officialsgot upabout the site is that it does not include data on graduates who got jobs in other states. For example, if tech graduates left the state to take lucrative jobs in California for Google or Facebook, their earnings would not be included in the tech course data, making the data incomplete.

JA Application Build your future

First launched in 2013, theJA Application Build your futureby Junior Achievement USA was updated in February 2016 to include more career profiles and to fix a technical issue that caused some early reviewers to be critical of the app.

JA Build Your Future allows you to explore required education levels for over 100 careers and compare the cost of a degree with potential earnings. The application will not process numbers for individual schools, but you can specify whether you plan to attend a public or private college or university and whether you will be an in-state or out-of-state student. After adjusting the contribution you expect you and your parents to make and the number of student loans you may need, the app will give you a return on investment (ROI) score between 1 and 5, with 5 indicating you shouldn't having trouble paying off the debt you would have to take on, and 1 means it will be hard to pay off.

The app pulls wage and education data from two main sources: the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the PricewaterhouseCoopers Financial Literacy Curriculum, supplemented with content and review from Junior Achievement. The app offers numbers based on national averages and other available data that may not reflect all costs and requirements, but you can manually review any entry you think you have better data for.

An issue with the original version of the app that caused some reviewers tobreadAfter reading the terms and conditions, some users didn't realize they had to scroll down and click "accept" to enter the app, said Ed Grocholski of Junior Achievement. The February update fixed this issue, added additional courses based on user feedback, and provided more up-to-date data on college costs and earnings related to specific jobs and career paths.

(Video) Evaluation of University Programs Project (ROI Study) Presentation

“We may not have all the races that everyone wants, but we've made an effort to include the most sought after ones,” Grocholski said.

To check:Is college worth it? how to decide

Removing emotions from the equation

Your college education is one of the most expensive investments you will make in your life. Your return on investment for your education comes down to assessing what you will pay out of pocket versus what your ultimate earning potential will be. Removing emotions from the equation and focusing on data and research can help you make a more thoughtful and practical decision limiting the amount of student loan debt you must take on.

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Ver:The pros and cons of student loans: are they worth it?

About the author

College ROI: 6 Tools to Measure Your Degree Performance (1)

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Kat Tretina is a freelance writer covering everything from student loans to personal loans and mortgages. Her work has been featured in publications such as the Huffington Post, Money Magazine, MarketWatch, Business Insider and more.

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