Best Value Colleges in Kentucky

If you are questioning the value of a college education in Kentucky, try thinking about it as an investment, just like you would if you were thinking of putting money in the stock market.  Read More

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1Thomas More College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$472,200
Total 4 Year Cost$150,800
Grad Rate57%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$30,160
2University of Kentucky (UK)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$303,100
Total 4 Year Cost$89,900
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,360
3University of Kentucky (UK)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$263,100
Total 4 Year Cost$129,900
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,360
4University of Louisville(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$225,700
Total 4 Year Cost$87,300
Grad Rate53%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$24,240
5Eastern Kentucky University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$220,300
Total 4 Year Cost$72,700
Grad Rate39%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,960
6Northern Kentucky University (NKU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$208,000
Total 4 Year Cost$72,700
Grad Rate38%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,560
7Eastern Kentucky University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$178,500
Total 4 Year Cost$114,500
Grad Rate39%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,960
8Northern Kentucky University (NKU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$177,700
Total 4 Year Cost$102,900
Grad Rate38%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,560
9University of Louisville(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$173,600
Total 4 Year Cost$139,400
Grad Rate53%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$24,240
10Western Kentucky University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$161,000
Total 4 Year Cost$72,000
Grad Rate44%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,720
11Western Kentucky University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$111,700
Total 4 Year Cost$121,300
Grad Rate44%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,720
12Sullivan University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$99,800
Total 4 Year Cost$123,200
Grad Rate48%
Time to GraduateN/A
Loan Amt$42,400
13Morehead State University (Kentucky)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$4,900
Total 4 Year Cost$71,100
Grad Rate40%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,480
14Morehead State University (Kentucky)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI($37,500)
Total 4 Year Cost$113,500
Grad Rate40%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,480

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

PayScale developed the Kentucky College ROI Report rankings so that you can see how a bachelor's degree from a college in the Bluegrass State benefit the person who earns it. To make this easy for you, we calculated the "net 20-year return on investment" or ROI.

To calculate the net 20-year ROI, we listed the education costs for each Kentucky school. Then we determined how much high school graduates earned over a 20-year period in the state. We also calculated the average amount that graduates from each particular school earned over 20 years. After subtracting the amount that college graduates paid for their educations from the average amount that these graduates earned in 20 years, we arrived at the net 20-year net ROI.

The best value colleges in Kentucky perform well even in national rankings in terms of the highest net 20-year ROIs. The number one spot belongs to Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.

Thomas More College is a private school that has a 57 percent graduation rate. After graduating, students who lived on campus can expect to earn $472,200 more than they would have earned over 20 years if they had not earned their bachelor's degrees from this educational institution. Note that this figure calculates in the cost of attending the school, which is $150,800 for four years. Students who qualify for financial aid to lower their educational expenses can expect to earn $541,800 more than a high school graduate over a 20-year period.

Thomas More College's $150,800 price tag is the highest in the state. If you are searching for a more affordable option, you will find it in the University of Kentucky. It will only cost $89,900 to attend this school for Kentucky residents. Students who live on campus can expect a $303,100 net 20-year ROI, and those who live on campus and receive financial aid can expect to enjoy a $336,500 net 20-year ROI.

When we talk about college return on investment Kentucky has some schools that don't show strong returns as well. By knowing which schools don't provide a strong monetary return on investment, you can avoid graduating with a lot of student loan debt that you may not be able to afford. For example, Morehead State University might have appealed to you because it is so inexpensive, but the net 20-year ROI that we calculated may make you think twice before you send your child there.

In-state education costs for Morehead State University are equal to $71,100. After paying tuition and comparing the median earnings of Morehead State graduates to those of high-school-only graduates, PayScale only sees a $4,900 increase in earnings of alumni from Morehead. If the student pays the out-of-state costs, the ending is even worse. They will pay $113,500 dollars in education costs and have a net 20-year ROI equal to a -$37,500.

A negative ROI doesn't necessarily mean that Morehead is a bad school. A negative ROI simply states that students from that school do not earn enough money over 20 years to cover the cost of attending that school. Often, this indicates that many of the students from the school in question major in subjects that lead to work in low-paying fields, like education or social work.

Kentucky does have other less expensive options that offer much higher net 20-year ROIs though. Eastern Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University have net 20-year ROIs of $220,300, $208,000, and $161,000 respectively. By weighing the financial numbers in our rankings, you finally have a way to help judge the value of a college education in Kentucky.