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College ROI

College
Written by Bold.org Editorial Team
Updated: August 25, 2022
8 min read
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If you're planning on beginning college or are currently working on a degree, you likely have many questions. How much can you expect to earn five years after graduating and how does this compare to tuition fees?

Choosing a college to attend is one of the most important decisions of your early life, as you leave high school and make your first moves into young adulthood.

Of course, the academic and social life on offer play a big part when choosing a college, but so do financial considerations.

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Especially for families from less advantaged backgrounds, there’s a balance to be struck between the colleges that are going to lead to the highest earnings in later life, and the initial costs of tuition.

We’ve taken a look at hundreds of colleges across the country and estimated how much you can expect to earn five years after graduating and how this compares to tuition fees.

USA Colleges with the Highest ROI

The Top 3 Colleges with the Highest ROI

  1. Valencia College
  • Location:
  • Tuition and Fees:
  • Average Early Career Pay
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation:
  • Average Five Year ROI:

2. Palm Beach State College

  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,474
  • Average Early Career Pay: $49,800
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $249,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 9,965%

3. St. Petersburg College

  • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,682
  • Average Early Career Pay: $48,900
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $244,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 9,016%

First up, we took a look at the colleges with the highest ROI overall, that’s the colleges with the highest earnings relative to the cost of tuition. Surprisingly, 12 of the 15 colleges with the highest ROI were all found in Florida, which was more down to the cheap cost of tuition rather than especially high earnings from any of the state’s colleges.

The college with the highest ROI overall was Valencia College in Orlando, which has average earnings of $49,800 in the first five years after graduation, but tuition fees of just $2,474 (for Florida residents), which is the second-lowest in the country, and 26 times less than the highest (Sterling College).

Colleges with the Highest ROI Ranked

1. Valencia College

  1. Location:
  2. Tuition and Fees:
  3. Average Early Career Pay
  4. Average Income Five Years After Graduation:
  5. Average Five Year ROI:

2. Palm Beach State College

  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,474
  • Average Early Career Pay: $49,800
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $249,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 9,965%

3. St. Petersburg College

  • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,682
  • Average Early Career Pay: $48,900
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $244,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 9,016%

4. Midland College

  • Location: Midland, TX
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,670
  • Average Early Career Pay: $48,100
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $240,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 8,907%

5. Brazosport College

  • Location: Lake Jackson, TX
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,715
  • Average Early Career Pay: $48,000
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $240,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 8,740%

6. State College of Florida

  • Location: Bradenton, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,704
  • Average Early Career Pay: $52,600
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $263,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 8,456%

7. College of Central Florida

  • Location: Ocala, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,570
  • Average Early Career Pay: $43,400
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $216,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 8,324%

8. Miami Dade College

  • Location: Miami, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,838
  • Average Early Career Pay: $47,500
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $237,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 8,269%

9. Broward College

  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,830
  • Average Early Career Pay: $46,900
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $234,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 8,186%

10. Florida State College at Jacksonville

  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,878
  • Average Early Career Pay: $46,700
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $233,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 8,013%

11. Pensacola State College

  • Location: Pensacola, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,704
  • Average Early Career Pay: $43,400
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $217,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 7,925%

12. Indian River State College

  • Location: Fort Pierce, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,764
  • Average Early Career Pay: $43,200
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $216,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 7,715%

13. Seminole State College

  • Location: Sanford, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,131
  • Average Early Career Pay: $47,600
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $238,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 7,501%

14. Northwest Florida State College

  • Location: Niceville, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,133
  • Average Early Career Pay: $45,900
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $229,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 7,225%

15. North Central State College

  • Location: Mansfield, OH
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,998
  • Average Early Career Pay: $58,300
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $291,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 7,191%

16. Bellevue College

  • Location: Bellevue, WA
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,778
  • Average Early Career Pay: $53,700
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $268,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 7,007%

17. Daytona State College

  • Location: Daytona Beach, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,104
  • Average Early Career Pay: $43,000
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $215,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 6,827%

18. Elizabeth City State University

  • Location: Elizabeth City, NC
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,194
  • Average Early Career Pay: $42,800
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $214,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 6,600%

19. Seattle Central College

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,669
  • Average Early Career Pay: $48,400
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $242,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 6,496%

20. Brigham Young University - Idaho

  • Location: Rexburg, ID
  • Tuition and Fees: $4,118
  • Average Early Career Pay: $54,300
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $271,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 6,493%

21. Florida SouthWestern State College

  • Location: Fort Myers, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,401
  • Average Early Career Pay: $44,800
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $224,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 6,486%

22. Polk State College

  • Location: Winter Haven, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,366
  • Average Early Career Pay: $44,200
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $221,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 6,466%

23. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

  • Location: Pembroke, NC
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,418
  • Average Early Career Pay: $41,500
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $207,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 5,971%

24. Western Carolina University

  • Location: Cullowhee, NC
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,926
  • Average Early Career Pay: $45,900
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $229,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 5,746%

25. Brigham Young University

  • Location: Provo, UT
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,620
  • Average Early Career Pay: $59,900
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $299,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 5,229%

26. Gordon State College

  • Location: Barnesville, GA
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,828
  • Average Early Career Pay: $40,700
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $203,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 5,216%

27. Dalton State College

  • Location: Dalton, GA
  • Tuition and Fees: $4,246
  • Average Early Career Pay: $44,900
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $224,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 5,187%

28. Florida Atlantic University

  • Location: Boca Raton, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $4,831
  • Average Early Career Pay: $50,400
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $252,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 5,116%

29. West Virginia University at Parkersburg

  • Location: Parkersburg, WV
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,722
  • Average Early Career Pay: $38,200
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $191,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 5,032%

30. Clark College

  • Location: Vancouver, WA
  • Tuition and Fees: $4,287
  • Average Early Career Pay: $43,500
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $217,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,973%

31. University of Wyoming

  • Location: Laramie, WY
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,400
  • Average Early Career Pay: $53,600
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $268,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,863%

32. California State University Maritime Academy

  • Location: Vallejo, CA
  • Tuition and Fees: $7,056
  • Average Early Career Pay: $69,800
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $349,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,846%

33. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology

  • Location: Okmulgee, OK
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,550
  • Average Early Career Pay: $54,100
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $270,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,774%

34. Brigham Young University–Hawaii

  • Location: Laie, HI
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,560
  • Average Early Career Pay: $53,000
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $265,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,666%

35. College of Coastal Georgia

  • Location: Brunswick, GA
  • Tuition and Fees: $4,696
  • Average Early Career Pay: $44,500
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $222,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,638%

36. Fashion Institute of Technology

  • Location: New York City, NY
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,740
  • Average Early Career Pay: $54,300
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $271,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,630%

37. Weber State University

  • Location: Ogden, UT
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,859
  • Average Early Career Pay: $55,400
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $277,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,628%

38. Florida State University

  • Location: Tallahassee, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,656
  • Average Early Career Pay: $51,800
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $259,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,479%

39. University of the District of Columbia

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,888
  • Average Early Career Pay: $53,700
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $268,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,460%

40. Utah Valley University

  • Location: Orem, UT
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,726
  • Average Early Career Pay: $52,100
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $260,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,449%

41. Fort Hays State University

  • Location: Hays, KS
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,130
  • Average Early Career Pay: $46,400
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $232,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,422%

42. University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Location: Fairbanks, AK
  • Tuition and Fees: $6,657
  • Average Early Career Pay: $60,000
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $300,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,407%

43. State University of New York Maritime College

  • Location: New York City, NY
  • Tuition and Fees: $8,283
  • Average Early Career Pay: $74,500
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $372,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,397%

44. University of Florida

  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $6,381
  • Average Early Career Pay: $57,100
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $285,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,374%

45. Clayton State University

  • Location: Morrow, GA
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,419
  • Average Early Career Pay: $48,100
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $240,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,338%

46. Florida A&M University

  • Location: Tallahassee, FL
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,785
  • Average Early Career Pay: $49,600
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $248,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,187%

47. Montana Technological University

  • Location: Butte, MT
  • Tuition and Fees: $7,412
  • Average Early Career Pay: $63,500
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $317,500
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,184%

48. Western Governors University

  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Tuition and Fees: $6,670
  • Average Early Career Pay: $56,600
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $283,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,143%

49. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

  • Location: Socorro, NM
  • Tuition and Fees: $7,770
  • Average Early Career Pay: $65,800
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $329,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,134%

50. University of Texas of the Permian Basin

  • Location: Odessa, TX
  • Tuition and Fees: $6,260
  • Average Early Career Pay: $52,800
  • Average Income Five Years After Graduation: $264,000
  • Average Five Year ROI: 4,117%
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