Money Matters

Do You View College as an Investment?

11 Aug 2016 by: jhurley 

College is absolutely an investment of both time and money! How do you know if you are getting the best return on your investment on tuition payments? Most students attend college with the expectation that there will be a job or career waiting for them upon graduation. When looking at colleges from this perspective, it‘s helpful to compare recent statistics covering post graduation salaries, tuition costs, and field placement.

In the past, it has been very difficult to do research on specific majors and to quantify the value of a specific kind of college degree. Prospective students take campus tours with positive and passionate guides with nothing negative to say, or call an admissions office which may provide their inflated, biased statistics about their costs and recent graduates’ career success.

For this kind of objective information one resource is Educate to Career (“ETC”). This resource has stepped up to the plate to provide non-biased, up-to-date and relevant information about college costs, salaries, and student loans. It allows prospective college students to sift through stats on over a thousand schools representing 94% of all students enrolled in four-year colleges. “The Index empirically determines the economic value added by each of the over 1200 colleges ranked within our system,” said Michael Havis, founder of ETC. “We calculate the improvement in earnings and employability of persons who attended specific colleges, relative to persons who are similarly situated in other colleges.”

ETC shows the average school tuition before and after scholarships and grants have been awarded, graduation rates, occupations of recent graduates from a selected major, and what the graduate can expect as a starting salary in their field. Students are able to use this as a tool to filter through and find which schools might produce the highest return on investment for their college tuition investment.

Let’s look at the findings for Purdue University. A graduating engineering student can expect an average starting salary of $45,700. Only 37.5% of engineering students at Purdue graduate within 4 years. Upon entering the work force, 35% were able to find full time jobs in an engineering occupation which is 4% higher than the national average. Students who graduated and are not in a full time position make up 15% of the graduating class at Purdue. Purdue, a private school, is ranked number 292 according to ETC which is in the top 25%. “Not so surprisingly,” says Havis, “public colleges tend to offer the best value in a college education based on our criteria.” These statistics, along with other stats from ETC, may help you make a more informed decision on where to apply for your undergraduate degree.

Beginning a few years ago, the U.S. government began releasing beginning salary figures for specific bachelor degrees at individual schools. ETC uses this information to “grade” schools on their value relative to their peers. Some of the metrics used in calculating the college rankings are:

  • Percentage of graduates employed in occupations which utilize their field of study
  • Average salary earned by recent graduates, by school for each major category (adjusted for region, occupation and other variables)
  • Percentage of persons employed within one year of graduation (weighted on an occupational trend basis)
  • Major, weighted against national norms
  • Number of years to graduate
  • Tuition- in state, net cost
  • Loan default rates
  • A basket of input variables which create a common standard for students in each major

(Another resource worth looking into may be https://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report.)

With student debt averaging well over $30,000 for the college graduating class of 2016, it is no surprise why resources like ETC are becoming more in demand and more popular. College is an investment not to be made lightly. If a student wants to be able to quickly pay off their student loans or start off in a career field of their choice after graduation, they need to do their due diligence. Paying off student loans can be an extremely stressful situation in someone’s post college life. Being well-prepared and doing thorough research before entering into the commitment of a loan will help reduce stress and help the student know what to expect upon graduation. With college debt levels so high, and so much at stake, doing one more research project on school costs should be no problem for a prospective college student. Bottom line, investigate before you (or your parents) invest!

PLEASE NOTE: Any links or references in this article are not intended as referrals or endorsements. They are merely provided for convenience and informational purposes. Only some information provided by Educate to Career is free. In order to receive the entirety of information available on EducatetoCareer.com you will be required to pay a fee to Educate to Career for their statistics. Creative Capital Management Inc. is not endorsing the purchase of their product nor is Creative Capital Management Inc. receiving any compensation from Educate to Career for this article or any revenue that Educate to Career may receive. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided by this site and do not endorse the products, services or other offers from Educate to Career. Nor is CCMI liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, websites, information and programs made available through this blog. When you access EducatetoCareer.com, you are leaving the CCMI website and assume total responsibility and risk for your use of the website to which you are linked.)

CCMI provides personalized fee-only financial planning and investment management services to business owners, professionals, individuals and families in San Diego and throughout the country. CCMI has a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals who act as fiduciaries, which means our clients’ interests always come first.
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