Best Value Colleges in Pennsylvania

Before you apply to college in Pennsylvania, consult PayScale's College ROI Report to find out which Pennsylvania colleges provide the best ROI to alumni.  Read More

Find Out Exactly What You
Should Be Paid
Find Out Exactly What You
Should Be Paid


1Carnegie 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
2University of Pennsylvania(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$659,000
Total 4 Year Cost$234,000
Grad Rate96%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,760
3Lafayette College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$656,100
Total 4 Year Cost$226,900
Grad Rate88%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,440
4Lehigh University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$593,800
Total 4 Year Cost$219,200
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,320
5Bucknell University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$580,500
Total 4 Year Cost$232,500
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,440
6Drexel University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$513,300
Total 4 Year Cost$219,700
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$45,200
7Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Erie-Behrend College(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$506,500
Total 4 Year Cost$116,500
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,240
8Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Erie-Behrend College(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$479,200
Total 4 Year Cost$143,800
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,240
9Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Harrisburg Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$466,500
Total 4 Year Cost$116,500
Grad Rate61%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,560
10Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$446,900
Total 4 Year Cost$126,100
Grad Rate85%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$35,080
11Villanova University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$440,100
Total 4 Year Cost$222,900
Grad Rate90%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,080
12Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Harrisburg Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$439,200
Total 4 Year Cost$143,800
Grad Rate61%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,560
13Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Main Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$398,000
Total 4 Year Cost$175,000
Grad Rate85%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$35,080
14Gannon University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$393,700
Total 4 Year Cost$159,300
Grad Rate65%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,480
15 (tie)Grove City College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$379,400
Total 4 Year Cost$93,600
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$43,600

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

In addition to enjoying some of the best values for higher education in the country, students attending Pennsylvania schools can immerse themselves in the rich cultural and historical traditions of thriving cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Keystone State is also home to stretches of the Appalachian Trail and many other beautiful natural areas. Whether you'd like to attend college in the state due to its high college ROI or to be in close proximity of a wealth of amazing attractions, consider using PayScale's data to pinpoint the best value colleges in Pennsylvania.

With its 25th-place ranking on our national list of 20 Year Net ROI colleges, Carnegie Mellon University earns first place in our Pennsylvania College ROI Report rankings. Located just three miles from downtown Pittsburgh, CMU is made up of seven colleges and independent schools. The average cost of an education from Carnegie is $234,500, and alumni report a median return on investment of $688,500 in the 20 years following graduation. With financial aid, that figure soars to $785,400. Located on 140 acres, CMU is home to one of the leading robotics research institutes in the country. Its School of Drama is among the most highly ranked in the U.S. too. Numerous accomplished alumni, including several astronauts, eight Academy Award winners and more than 100 Emmy award winners, are graduates of the school.

Coming in at number 31 on our national College ROI Report, the University of Pennsylvania offers a college return on investment Pennsylvania residents benefit from enormously. Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the prestigious Ivy League school was among the nine original Colonial Colleges. The average cost to earn a degree from UPenn is $234,000, and the 20 Year Net ROI is $659,000 without financial aid and $809,400 with it. Located in West Philadelphia, UPenn's 279-acre campus is dominated by a Collegiate Gothic style. The alumni list includes a dozen heads of state, three U.S. Supreme Court justices and eight signers of the Declaration of Independence. Without question, UPenn delivers a value of college education Pennsylvania residents can use to build strong careers.

Founded in 1826, Lafayette College is ranked 32nd on our national College ROI Report. The well-regarded school is located in Easton, Pennsylvania, which is about 70 miles west of NYC and about 60 miles north of Philadelphia. Lafayette alums report a median return on investment of $656,100; that number soars to $782,900 with financial aid. Offering BAs in 37 fields, the school offers more than 250 clubs and organizations for students to enjoy. With such a competitive ROI, Lafayette is among the best value colleges Pennsylvania students can graduate from.