Best Value Private Colleges

Private colleges can have shockingly high tuitions, but for certain students, they are the best values in terms of college return on investment Students seek out private universities and colleges for a number of reasons.  Read More

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1Harvey Mudd College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$985,300
Total 4 Year Cost$237,700
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$21,920
2California Institute of Technology (Caltech)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$901,400
Total 4 Year Cost$221,600
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,160
3Stevens Institute of Technology(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$841,000
Total 4 Year Cost$232,000
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$44,000
4Babson College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$812,800
Total 4 Year Cost$230,200
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,880
5Stanford University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$809,700
Total 4 Year Cost$233,300
Grad Rate96%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,880
6Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$798,500
Total 4 Year Cost$224,500
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,680
7Princeton University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$795,700
Total 4 Year Cost$217,300
Grad Rate97%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$17,040
8Kettering University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$752,900
Total 4 Year Cost$190,100
Grad Rate61%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$45,600
9Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$735,100
Total 4 Year Cost$217,900
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$40,800
10Brown University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$723,900
Total 4 Year Cost$229,100
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,640
11Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$722,100
Total 4 Year Cost$220,900
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$43,600
12NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$713,900
Total 4 Year Cost$219,100
Grad Rate57%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,280
13Rice University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$708,400
Total 4 Year Cost$204,600
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,920
14Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$688,500
Total 4 Year Cost$234,500
Grad Rate88%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$34,960
15Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$680,500
Total 4 Year Cost$232,500
Grad Rate85%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$40,800

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

Such schools tend to have very close-knit communities, and class sizes tend to be far smaller than those at public institutes of higher learning. More importantly, learning tends to be the central focus of private schools, so they tend to attract students who plan on focusing exclusively on their educations while attending school. Regardless of why you'd like to attend a privately funded university, consider using PayScale's data to identify the best value private colleges before you apply.

From its 38-acre campus in Claremont, California, Harvey Mudd College holds the distinction of being the number-one school on our 20 Year Net ROI college list. Founded in 1955, the highly regarded college hosts just 800 students per year. However, those who graduate go on to enjoy great earning potential, as evidenced by the school's 20 Year Net ROI of $985,300. With financial aid, that figure zooms to $1,104,500. The school is a standout in many ways, but the fact that significant numbers of graduates go on to earn their PhDs is particularly noteworthy. Located about 35 miles east of Los Angeles, Harvey Mudd College offers four-year degrees in engineering, computer science, chemistry, mathematics and physics and counts many astronauts among its alumni.

Appearing second on our list of best value private universities, the California Institute of Technology also happens to be ranked second on our 20 Year Net ROI list. Caltech, as it's more commonly known, is a privately funded university that was founded in 1891. Located in Pasadena, California, Caltech consists of six academic divisions and offers 24 majors, or "options," and six minors. Caltech alums report a median return of investment of $901,400 in the two decades after they graduate. With financial aid, that number soars to $1,029,700. Caltech has produced many accomplished alumni through the years, but Linus Pauling -- recipient of two Nobel Prize awards -- is probably the most notable. Furthermore, six alumni have received the Turing Award, which is considered the Nobel Prize of computer science.

With a third-place national 20 Year Net ROI ranking, Stevens Institute of Technology, or SIT, offers some of the best values in private colleges in the United States. Located on Castle Point in Hoboken, New Jersey, SIT is best known for its traditions of entrepreneurship and innovation. Its 20 Year Net ROI without financial aid is $841,000. When financial aid is factored in, that figure increases to $948,300. One reason SIT alums enjoy such great earning potential is because many of them earn STEM degrees, which open up many doors in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like many private colleges, SIT has small class sizes and boasts a 7:1 faculty-to-student ratio.

Babson College, a private business school in Wellesley, Massachusetts, appears in the fifth place on our national College ROI Report. As such, it also offers among the best private colleges return on investment for students and their families. Babson College grads report a median return on investment of $812,800; with financial aid, that number jumps to $946,500. Located on a 350-acre campus known as "Babson Park," the school is famous for its entrepreneurship focus and counts the CEOs of Pepsico, Toyota and Accenture among its alumni. In the last five years alone, Babson grads have launched nearly 120 successful companies, so it's easy to see why it's among the best value private schools in the nation.