When you’re looking for the best value college, you want to be looking at more than just the cost of attending a specific college. You want to choose a college where you’ll get good value for the money you pay.
ROI (Return On Investment) on College
There are a variety of factors you could use to decide if a college is good value for money, but for most people, what it comes down to is this: Am I getting a good ROI? Will I be able to pay off my student debt quickly and efficiently and start earning a decent income with a qualification from this University?
Education and specifically higher education is obviously not only about how much money you can make or whether you’ll receive a good return on investment. Choosing the right college is a complex decision, but it’s important to understand the financial implications of the academic choices you make. A college degree doesn’t always offer a good ROI, and it’s important for students and their families to carefully consider their options.
Money Magazine Rankings
Money magazine does a survey of American colleges each year and then ranks them according to which colleges offer the best value for money. Their process and methodology are a bit complex, but the list can give you a good idea of how much financial aid you can expect on average, how much you can expect to pay, and what you can reasonably expect a student to earn in the years after graduation.
According to Money Magazine’s rankings. the top 10 best value colleges are:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
- Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
- Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
- Duke University (Durham, NC)
- University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)
- Yale University (New Haven, CT)
- Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
- University of California-San Diego (La Jolla CA)
- University of California-Davis (Davis CA)
Of course, it’s important to do your own homework and research too. Each student’s situation will be different. It’s to find out the specific costs and earning potential of the major or field of study you’re interested in, as well as how much financial aid you qualify for at each school.
In-State or Out-of-State College?
Attending an in-state school can provide help make college more affordable. The cost of tuition is lower if you choose and in-state school and you can also often save on transport and accommodation costs if college is closer to home.
It’s important to remember, that you’re looking for the best value for money and not just for the lowest cost available. An out-of-state college may end up being more expensive but provide a better ROI.
A student who takes longer to graduate ends up paying way more for school. Each year that is spent at college instead of working and earning money is an expensive year. Choosing a school that can provide enough attention and emotional support, can end up being a less expensive choice even if the fees are higher.
How To Prepare
It’s unlikely that you’ll receive enough financial aid to cover all of the college expenses. Most students and their families will need to use savings or take on some form of student debt to pay for college.
Get Going Early
Investing a small amount regularly over a long period is the easiest, most pain-free way to save for college. Starting 529 plan is one great way to start saving for college, because the money grows and can be spent tax-free on education related expenses like tuition, room and board, books and other expenses.
Pay Down Debt Quickly
If you do need to take on debt, as most families do, then having a plan in place to pay the debt down quickly, is a sure way to achieve financial freedom.
Check Out Upromise
Upromise is a rewards site, which helps you pay for college. They take the stress out of saving, by rewarding you for daily tasks, like shopping online, swiping your card and dining out. The rewards are then paid out into a 529 plan where they can grow until it’s time for college.
Obviously, this won’t be the only way you save for college, but it’s free and easy to sign up, which makes it a fun way to keep adding to the college savings without feeling the pinch in the monthly budget.
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