The Years to Recoup Educational Investment = Total College Costs / (College Salary — Typical High School Salary)

The US Department of Education – College Scorecard provides data sets on average college costs with variables broken down by sector, credential, and field of study.

When paired with median earnings supported by the US Census, we can determine which Associate, Bachelor, and Certificate programs graduate the highest income earners.

For example, if a college graduate earns $10,000 more than a typical high school graduate and their degree costs $40,000, then their time to recoup the investment is four years ($40K/$10k).

The majority of college graduates recoup their education investment within 5 years

Between 45% and 50% of college graduates recoup the cost of their education within five years.

  •  Students from Public institutions (57%) outperform Private (39%) and For-profit (36%) in recouping investment within five years
  • Students earning Associate’s Degrees (58%) outperform Bachelor’s (51%) and Certificates (34%)

Several Fields of Study Outperform No Matter the Sector or Credential

Fields of studies in healthcare and electrical engineering have the highest ROI for college education across public, private, and for-profit sectors. Close to 100% of graduates in those fields recoup their education investment within five years.

The highest ROI for Bachelor programs include…

  • Electrical, Electronics & Communications Engineering
  • Nursing (multiple sub-fields)
  • Engineering Technology

The highest ROI for Associate programs include…

  • Electrical Engineering Technologies/Technicians
  • Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment Professions
  • Nursing (multiple sub-fields)

The highest ROI for Certificate programs include…

  • Transportation and Materials Moving
  • Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies
  • Nursing (multiple sub-fields)

Credit should be given to the institutions providing these programs and shutting down unsuccessful programs. The value of education is dependent upon employers hiring competent workers trained in the necessary fields.

IonTuition includes college planning resources and tools to help student loan borrowers successfully manage their repayment.

SOURCE: Data compiled by Thirdway