University ranks high in return on investment study

In light of mounting college tuition costs, students may question their investment before signing up for four years of college payments. Luckily for GW students, the University ranked high on a new study conducted by PayScale, Inc. that ranked colleges based on return on investment, or what a student gets back for the money they spend on college.

GW ranked 76th on the list, behind fellow District school Georgetown – No. 21 -but ahead of market basket schools like American -No. 176, – Boston University -No. 111 – and New York University -No. 102. Massachusetts Institute of Technology earned the top spot in the study, closely followed by California Institute of Technology. The study included 852 private and public colleges.

PayScale, Inc. is an online database of individual employee compensation profiles.

Return on investment is calculated by taking how much more a graduate of a college would earn than an employee with only a high school degree and subtracting the cost to attend the college. The figure is then multiplied by the college’s graduation rate to compensate for students who attend college but leave before earning a degree.

The average cost to attend GW for four years and graduate in 2009 was listed as $206,100. The return on investment was calculated to be $801,900 over 30 years.

PayScale ranks the colleges according to the 30-year net return on investment. Employees who possess only a bachelor’s degree, who work in the United States and who completed PayScale’s employment survey were included in the study.

GW’s highest ranking came in the average cost category. The University ranked 23rd, ahead of fellow D.C. and market basket schools.

While the study may help prospective students determine which school will be the best investment, the study does neglect several factors that impact college cost. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education points out the limitations of the study, which include neglected financial aid awards and relatively small amount of data.

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