Is College a Good Investment? – Part II


Educational Cost

For education cost, we used data from the Dept. of Education IPEDS database. As I talked about in a recent post, this is a great resource for students and parents to learn about a specific college or university.

We calculated the total cost by added up the 4, 5 or 6 years of tuition, fees, room and board a 2009 graduate would have paid, if s/he had paid the full sticker price for their education.

  • Why more than 4-years? While a bachelor's is nominally a 4-year degree, it has become common at many universities for the typical student to take up to 6 years to graduate.
  • Why 2009? This was the most recent year available in IPEDS. College costs have continued to rise; someone starting college today can expect to pay 10% or more.
  • Why "Sticker" Price? While many universities offer discounts to subsets of students, we could not find a uniform dataset that we could use to account for the "discount" offered to various families and students in a fair manner

Colleges in the US are somewhat socialist, or perhaps they are just sleazy salesmen: when you ask, "how much?" they counter, "how much you got?" :-) While we could find data on average financial aid package, and percentage of students getting financial aid, there was no good way to estimate the "typical" student price discount for all colleges.

If you have a financial aid offer from one of the schools, it is easy to correct the Net 30-Year ROI: just add to it the scholarship multiplied by the graduation rate.



Why Rank on Net 30-Year ROI?

How Does Financial Aid/Scholarships Change the Story?

How Do College Investment Compare to Other Investments?

The Future: the Great Unknown


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