Best Value Colleges in Washington DC

Despite its tiny size, in terms of best value colleges, Washington DC has some standouts, even if they are also some of the most expensive schools in the nation.

As the capital of the United States, Washington DC is a great place to attend college. Notwithstanding its small size, the district is home to several schools that offer exceptional ROI, and as the home to a large number of government agencies and leading corporations, the city is the perfect place for networking. Whether you’d like to attend school in DC because you’re interested in politics or if you’re drawn there mostly for its high ROI schools, consider using PayScale’s data to find the colleges in Washington, DC before submitting a single application.

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RankSchool Name20 Year Net ROI
Total 4 Year Cost
Graduation Rate
Typical Years to Graduate
Average Loan Amount
Rank:1School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$671,000Total 4 Year Cost:$263,000Graduation Rate:94%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$26,100
Rank:2School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$531,000Total 4 Year Cost:$257,000Graduation Rate:84%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$30,100
Rank:3School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$447,000Total 4 Year Cost:$233,000Graduation Rate:70%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$37,500
Rank:4School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$390,000Total 4 Year Cost:$239,000Graduation Rate:81%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$31,700
Rank:5School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$319,000Total 4 Year Cost:$169,000Graduation Rate:61%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$31,400
Rank:6School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$71,200Total 4 Year Cost:$138,000Graduation Rate:43%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$21,800
Rank:7School Name:20 Year Net ROI:-Total 4 Year Cost:-Graduation Rate:13%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$22,100
Rank:8School Name:20 Year Net ROI:-Total 4 Year Cost:-Graduation Rate:13%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$22,100

Founded in 1789, Georgetown University holds the distinction of being the oldest Catholic or Jesuit institute of higher learning in the United States. It has a law school in Capitol Hill, but its main campus is in DC’s upscale Georgetown neighborhood. Known for its tradition of activism — and for boasting one of the oldest debating clubs in the country — Georgetown has produced many illustrious alumni, including President Bill Clinton and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Named the “Most Politically Active School” in the country by the Princeton Review in 2012, American University is an excellent choice for students who are interested in careers in international affairs and the like. Its beautiful campus was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame, and famous alumni include screenwriter Barry Levinson and David Gregory of Meet the Press, so you will be in excellent company as a student.

George Washington University has a reputation for producing alumni who go on to become millionaires. Because it’s located in DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, GWU is just a short walk away from the White House. With more than 25,000 students, the largest university in the nation’s capital boasts many famous and accomplished alumni, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Jackie Kennedy.

Located in Brookland, which is otherwise known as DC’s “Little Rome,” the Catholic University of America is made up of 12 schools, including the Columbia School of Law, the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Nursing. Two reigning popes have visited the university, whose tree-lined campus offers a bucolic reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city.