The Wall Street Journal Asks "Is Your Degree Is Really Worth It?"

Navigating the path to higher education can be daunting. There are an overwhelming number of variables to consider, and finances usually sit right at the top of the list. The rising cost of education has ushered in an ongoing debate about how we measure the return on investment (ROI) of a college degree. The Wall Street Journal recently turned to PayScale’s data help guide college hopefuls through this process. The result is a handy interactive worksheet that allows you to calculate the ROI for any school you may be considering.

College graduate students


Tuition, housing, food, transportation, and student supplies are important factors to consider when calculating college costs. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to pay out of pocket you may not have much to worry about. Sadly, this is not the reality for many Americans. And if you are lucky enough to get a little help from your family, mom and dad probably don’t want to sink thousands of their hard-earned dollars into a basket-weaving degree, no matter how passionate you are about textiles.

One way for evaluating potential educational decisions is to compare the overall cost with your post-graduate earning potential. The method is simple: Add up the total cost of school, and subtract any aid you are expecting. (This can come in the form of scholarships, federal loans, grants, etc.) Subtract the amount you can expect in aid from the overall cost to determine the net price. Compare this to the median salary range for your degree path and school, and can get a pretty good projection on the fiscal outlook for the school and major you have in mind.

 According to PayScale and The Wall Street Journal, students who plan to attend Harvey Mudd College should give themselves a pat on the back, as it ranks in the top for schools with the best ROI, starting salary for grads, and default rate for loans. MIT and Georgia Tech graduates are also looking at the possibility of a bright financial future. Take a look at the worksheet, and use it to compare your options. With data on your side, you’ll be able to make these tough decisions with ease and confidence.

 What are some of the financial factors you consider when thinking about the ROI of higher education? We would love to hear all about your findings. Leave a comment or join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ValueofEd


  1. Please prove to us that you're not a robot: