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10 College Value Stats That Might Surprise You

10 College Value Stats That Might Surprise You

The type of college, choice of major and degree level are all individual considerations that must be made by a student based on a wide array of factors. However, with the cost of a college education rising every semester, many students are now forced to consider the financial prudence of their education. Here are some statistics about the modern college experience.

Value Of A Bachelor’s Degree: $1.2 Million

Do those monthly student loan debt payments ever make you wonder if going to college was even worth it? According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average person with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1.2 million more from ages 22 to 64 than a person with no degree.

Related Link: Private Student Loan Debt: Overlooked 411

Despite skyrocketing tuition costs, college is still typically the best route to choose to make money in the long run.

Cost Of Attending College: $44,750 Per Year

This number represents a “moderate” college budget for a student enrolled in a private college for the 2013-2014 school year, according to the College Board. The cost drops to $22,826 per year for an in-state public college. These student budgets include tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, school supplies and transportation.

Highest-Paying Bachelor’s Degree: Petroleum Engineering ($176,300 Per Year)

According to PayScale, if you really want to get the biggest payoff from a bachelor’s degree, plan on working for Exxon Mobile Corporation (NYSE: XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) or ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP).

Petroleum engineering majors can expect to make on average a mid-career salary upwards of $175,000 per year. If you’d prefer working in an office at a company like MetLife Inc (NYSE: MET), the second highest-paying bachelor’s degree is Actuarial Mathematics, which pays a mid-career salary of $119,600.

The rest of the 11 top-paying bachelor’s degrees are all in engineering: Nuclear, Chemical, Electronics & Communications, Electrical & Computer, Computer Science, Computer, Aerospace, Electrical and Materials Science Engineering.

Highest-Paying Advanced Degree: Master’s In Petroleum Engineering ($187,600 Per Year)

Once again, Petroleum Engineering takes the top spot for high-paying advanced degrees. A Nurse-Anesthesia master’s degree is the runner-up, with an average mid-career salary of $162,800.

Other advanced degrees of note include an MBA in Strategy at number five on the list ($145,000 mid-career) and a Juris Doctorate rounding out the top 10 ($139,000 mid-career).

Highest-Paying Associate's Degree: Management Information Systems ($76,800 Per Year)

If four years of college seems too much, an associate’s degree in Management Information Systems is the top-earning two-year degree. Associate's degrees in Computer or Electrical Engineering also produce average mid-career salaries above $75,000.

College with the Highest-Paying Bachelor’s Degrees: Harvey Mudd College ($133,800 Per Year)

Not surprisingly, the top three schools with the highest-paying bachelor’s degrees are all engineering schools: Harvey Mudd, United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Landing a high-paying dream job at tech giants Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) or Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) would certainly be a bit more plausible with an engineering degree from one of these top schools.

College With The Highest-Paying Graduate Degree: Harvard Law School ($201,000 Per Year)

Harvard Law at the top of the list of highest-paying graduate degrees should come as no surprise. In fact, five of the top six schools in this category are law schools (Emory, Santa Clara, UCLA and Pepperdine). The lone exception is the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Graduate degrees from each of these six schools produce an average mid-career salary of $180,000-plus.

Most Popular American Undergraduate Major: Business Management & Administration

College graduates with this degree can expect to have the most company in the job market. Mean annual salary for employees with a Business Management & Administration degree is $58,000.

Related Link: When To Talk With Your Kids About Finances

Degree With The Worst Return On Investment: Communications

According to, a Communications degree provides the worst average annual return on investment based on the average price of tuition at a private university. The return on investment calculated from mean salaries of common communications-related jobs ranges from 24 percent to as low at 17 percent depending on the job.

Degree With The Worst Employment Prospects: Architecture

Despite the difficult course load for architecture students, the unemployment rate among graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture is 13.9 percent. That number is more than double the national unemployment rate of 5.9 percent.

Keep in mind, regardless of where you got your degree from or what field you studied, higher education is an unparalleled investment.

Posted-In: associates degree bachelor degree careerEducation Top Stories Economics Personal Finance General Best of Benzinga


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