Best Value Colleges in Pennsylvania

There is no shortage of amazing colleges in Pennsylvania, but before you apply to one, consult PayScale's College ROI Report to find out which Pennsylvania colleges provide the best ROI to alumni.

Students attending Pennsylvania colleges can immerse themselves in the rich cultural and historical traditions of thriving cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  Read More

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1Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$811,000
Total 4 Year Cost$243,000
Grad Rate88%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,500
2University of Pennsylvania(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$760,000
Total 4 Year Cost$243,000
Grad Rate96%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$25,400
3Lehigh University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$693,000
Total 4 Year Cost$226,000
Grad Rate87%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,100
4Bucknell University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$604,000
Total 4 Year Cost$240,000
Grad Rate89%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$30,500
5Lafayette College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$573,000
Total 4 Year Cost$235,000
Grad Rate90%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,100
6Drexel University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$519,000
Total 4 Year Cost$235,000
Grad Rate67%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$43,500
7Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Erie-Behrend College(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$504,000
Total 4 Year Cost$120,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,900
8Villanova University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$493,000
Total 4 Year Cost$231,000
Grad Rate89%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,400
9Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Erie-Behrend College(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$476,000
Total 4 Year Cost$148,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,900
10Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$473,000
Total 4 Year Cost$131,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$36,200
11University of Pittsburgh - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$458,000
Total 4 Year Cost$126,000
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$37,600
12Grove City College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$453,000
Total 4 Year Cost$97,400
Grad Rate83%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$42,500
13Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Main Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$423,000
Total 4 Year Cost$181,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$36,200
14University of Pittsburgh - Main Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$419,000
Total 4 Year Cost$165,000
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$37,600
15Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Harrisburg Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$414,000
Total 4 Year Cost$120,000
Grad Rate67%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,800

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

The Keystone State is also home to stretches of the Appalachian Trail and many other beautiful natural areas. If you're planning on attending college in Pennsylvania, make sure you're getting a good value using PayScale's College ROI data.

Ranking in the top 10 nationally in terms of 20-year net ROI, 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 Mellon is $243,000, and alumni report a median return on investment of $811,000 over 20 years following graduation. That number has risen significantly in the past couple years, likely because CMU is home to one of the leading robotics research institutes in the country, and that's a skillset that is in higher demand than ever in today's economy. (News stories of companies like Uber poaching talent from CMU's student pool demonstrate just how valuable.) The Carnegie Mellon 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 19 on our national College ROI Report, the University of Pennsylvania is also a great investment for students who can get in. Founded by Benjamin Franklin, this prestigious Ivy League school was among the nine original Colonial Colleges. The typical 20-year net ROI is $760,000 without financial aid and $910,000 with the average financial aid package factored in. Located in West Philadelphia, UPenn's 279-acre campus is dominated by a Collegiate Gothic style. The alumni list includes Elon Musk, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Elizabeth Banks, Warren Buffet, John Legend, Dr. Oz, and Steve Wynn.

If you've noticed a trend of high-ranking private schools, you might be smart enough to get into a top Pennsylvania university. Lehigh University, Bucknell University, Lafayette College, and Drexel University all make the top 10 list of best value colleges in Pennsylvania and boast 20-year net ROIs over $500,000. The only public college to rank in the top 10 is Pennsylvania State University, with a 20-year net ROI of $504,000.