The University Network

The Top 100 Public and Private Universities in the U.S. Based On Post-Graduation Earnings to Tuition Ratio

How much money can I make 10 years from now, and how much would I have to spend on tuition to make that amount? 

These are important questions that prospective college students should keep in mind when choosing a school.

Unfortunately, while students have many ways to compare prospective higher education choices, few tools focus on the numbers that matter most, as in, how different your financial health could be 10 years after attending college A instead of college B.

To address this issue, The University Network (TUN) has created the School Analysis Tool to make it easier for students and their families to make better comparisons of higher education by comparing a whole host of data, including:

  • actual annual cost based on different family income levels;
  • post graduation earnings;
  • graduation rate;
  • retention rate; and
  • average debt.

In addition, TUN also has constructed a few ratios to help students make an apples-to-apples comparison of the schools they want to check out. One of these ratios is the Earnings to Tuition Ratio, which give prospective students and their parents a quick way to compare schools when considering the cost of attending and the salary they can expect to earn after attending.

To construct the ratio, we used the data from the U.S. Department of Education as of September 25, 2017, showing the the median earnings 10 years after the start of attending school divided by the average annual cost of attendance that financial aid recipients incurred.

We found an average Earnings to Tuition Ratio of 3.1 to one for the 3,495 schools in the U.S. that provided the necessary data.

The higher the ratio, the better it is for students with loans to pay back. United States Merchant Marine Academy topped the list at a ratio of 14.8 to one, a little more than 4.7 times the national average, which is not surprising as students get free tuition. Princeton University came second with a ratio of 11 to one.

The Top 100 Universities in the U.S. Based On Graduates’ Earnings to Tuition Ratios

While the School Analysis Tool makes it easy to compare schools based on available financial data, we have limited the following three top 100 lists to 4-year schools with a graduation rate of greater than 50 percent and enrollment greater than 500 students: 

  1. Earnings to Tuition Ratios for the top 100 all 4-year schools;
  2. Earnings to Tuition Ratios for the top 100 public 4-year schools; and
  3. Earnings to Tuition Ratios for the top 100 private 4-year schools.

A. Here is a list of the top 100 all 4-year schools and their Earnings to Tuition Ratios (average earnings to tuition ratios of 2.3 to one for this data subset):

Rank School Ratio
1 United States Merchant Marine Academy 14.8
2 Princeton University 11.0
3 Berea College 10.9
4 CUNY Bernard M Baruch College 8.0
5 CUNY Queens College 7.9
6 CUNY Brooklyn College 7.0
7 California State University-Fresno 6.9
8 Harvard University 6.8
9 Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus 6.8
10 California State University-Stanislaus 6.4
11 California State University-Fullerton 6.2
12 CUNY Hunter College 6.2
13 Stanford University 5.9
14 Christian Brothers University 5.5
15 University of Washington-Tacoma Campus 5.3
16 The California Maritime Academy 5.1
17 California State University-Long Beach 5.0
18 Brigham Young University-Idaho 4.9
19 Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art 4.8
20 Texas A & M University-College Station 4.8
21 University of Washington-Bothell Campus 4.7
22 California State Polytechnic University-Pomona 4.6
23 Brigham Young University-Provo 4.5
24 University of California-Los Angeles 4.4
25 University of California-Berkeley 4.4
26 Massachusetts Maritime Academy 4.4
27 Rutgers University-Newark 4.4
28 University of Florida 4.3
29 Missouri University of Science and Technology 4.3
30 Michigan Technological University 4.3
31 Louisiana Tech University 4.3
32 University of California-Irvine 4.3
33 West Virginia University 4.2
34 San Jose State University 4.2
35 University of California-San Diego 4.2
36 Arizona State University-Tempe 4.2
37 The University of Texas at Dallas 4.1
38 University of South Florida-Main Campus 4.1
39 Stony Brook University 4.1
40 University of the Sciences 4.0
41 University of Wyoming 4.0
42 University of Washington-Seattle Campus 4.0
43 Rice University 3.9
44 University of North Texas 3.9
45 Rutgers University-Camden 3.9
46 University of Georgia 3.9
47 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 3.9
48 Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 3.8
49 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College 3.8
50 University of Maryland-College Park 3.8
51 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3.8
52 Maine Maritime Academy 3.8
53 San Diego State University 3.8
54 University of Hawaii at Manoa 3.8
55 Pomona College 3.7
56 University of Michigan-Dearborn 3.7
57 University of Illinois at Chicago 3.7
58 Florida International University 3.7
59 Yale University 3.7
60 Purdue University-Main Campus 3.7
61 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 3.6
62 University of California-Davis 3.6
63 Fashion Institute of Technology 3.6
64 Murray State University 3.6
65 Northwest Missouri State University 3.6
66 University of California-Riverside 3.6
67 Claremont McKenna College 3.6
68 Pennsylvania State University-Penn State New Kensington 3.6
69 Utah State University 3.6
70 University of Utah 3.6
71 Brigham Young University-Hawaii 3.5
72 New Jersey Institute of Technology 3.5
73 Vanderbilt University 3.5
74 Truman State University 3.5
75 Illinois Institute of Technology 3.5
76 Mount Carmel College of Nursing 3.5
77 Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Lehigh Valley 3.5
78 University of North Florida 3.5
79 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo 3.4
80 Virginia Military Institute 3.4
81 University of Delaware 3.4
82 Iowa State University 3.4
83 Columbia University in the City of New York 3.4
84 University of Virginia-Main Campus 3.4
85 Sam Houston State University 3.4
86 Santa Fe College 3.3
87 Saint Joseph’s College-New York 3.3
88 University of North Carolina at Charlotte 3.3
89 MCPHS University 3.3
90 University of Iowa 3.3
91 Davidson College 3.3
92 University of Pennsylvania 3.3
93 University of California-Santa Barbara 3.3
94 California State University-Chico 3.3
95 Old Dominion University 3.3
96 Texas State University 3.2
97 Holy Family University 3.2
98 St Francis College 3.2
99 North Carolina State University at Raleigh 3.2
100 College of William and Mary 3.2

Here are some interesting data we found with respect to the top 100 4-year school list:

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  • Of the 100 schools, 74 are public and 26 are private.
  • 8 CUNY schools made it to the list.
  • 20 California and 12 New York schools made it to the list.
  • The average test scores are as follows:
    • SAT Verbal: 579.35
    • SAT Math: 606.02
    • SAT Writing: 599.16
    • ACT English: 26.23
    • ACT Math: 26.28
    • ACT Writing: 8.34
  • The average admission rate is as follows:
    • Top 10 Schools = 35%
    • Top 20 Schools = 43%
    • Top 30 Schools = 47%
    • Top 40 Schools = 50%
    • Top 50 Schools = 51%
    • Top 60 Schools = 51%
    • Top 70 Schools = 52%
    • Top 80 Schools = 52%
    • Top 90 Schools = 53%
    • Top 100 Schools = 53%
  • The average annual net price for federal financial aid recipients, after aid from the school, state, or federal government, is $13,611.
    • An average of 31% receive Pell Grants.
    • An average of 40% of undergraduates receive federal student loan.
  • The average median earning (10 years after entry) of the top 100 schools is $55,105.

B. Here is a list of the top 100 public 4-year schools and their Earnings to Tuition Ratios (average earnings to tuition ratios of 3.1 to one for this data subset):

Rank School Ratio
1 United States Merchant Marine Academy 14.8
2 CUNY Bernard M Baruch College 8.0
3 CUNY Queens College 7.9
4 CUNY Brooklyn College 7.0
5 California State University-Fresno 6.9
6 Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus 6.8
7 University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee 6.6
8 California State University-Stanislaus 6.4
9 California State University-Fullerton 6.2
10 CUNY Hunter College 6.2
11 University of Washington-Tacoma Campus 5.3
12 Texas A & M University-Texarkana 5.2
13 The California Maritime Academy 5.1
14 California State University-Long Beach 5.0
15 Texas A & M University-College Station 4.8
16 University of Washington-Bothell Campus 4.7
17 California State Polytechnic University-Pomona 4.6
18 University of California-Los Angeles 4.4
19 University of California-Berkeley 4.4
20 Massachusetts Maritime Academy 4.4
21 Rutgers University-Newark 4.4
22 University of Florida 4.3
23 Missouri University of Science and Technology 4.3
24 Michigan Technological University 4.3
25 Louisiana Tech University 4.3
26 University of California-Irvine 4.3
27 West Virginia University 4.2
28 San Jose State University 4.2
29 University of California-San Diego 4.2
30 Arizona State University-Tempe 4.2
31 The University of Texas at Dallas 4.1
32 University of South Florida-Main Campus 4.1
33 University of Houston-Victoria 4.1
34 Stony Brook University 4.1
35 University of Wyoming 4.0
36 University of Washington-Seattle Campus 4.0
37 University of North Texas 3.9
38 Rutgers University-Camden 3.9
39 University of Georgia 3.9
40 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 3.9
41 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College 3.8
42 University of Maryland-College Park 3.8
43 Maine Maritime Academy 3.8
44 San Diego State University 3.8
45 University of Hawaii at Manoa 3.8
46 University of Michigan-Dearborn 3.7
47 University of Illinois at Chicago 3.7
48 Florida International University 3.7
49 Purdue University-Main Campus 3.7
50 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 3.6
51 University of California-Davis 3.6
52 Fashion Institute of Technology 3.6
53 Murray State University 3.6
54 Northwest Missouri State University 3.6
55 University of California-Riverside 3.6
56 Pennsylvania State University-Penn State New Kensington 3.6
57 Utah State University 3.6
58 University of Utah 3.6
59 New Jersey Institute of Technology 3.5
60 Truman State University 3.5
61 Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Lehigh Valley 3.5
62 University of North Florida 3.5
63 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo 3.4
64 Virginia Military Institute 3.4
65 University of Delaware 3.4
66 Iowa State University 3.4
67 University of Virginia-Main Campus 3.4
68 Sam Houston State University 3.4
69 Santa Fe College 3.3
70 University of North Carolina at Charlotte 3.3
71 University of Iowa 3.3
72 University of California-Santa Barbara 3.3
73 California State University-Chico 3.3
74 Old Dominion University 3.3
75 Texas State University 3.2
76 North Carolina State University at Raleigh 3.2
77 College of William and Mary 3.2
78 University of Wisconsin-Platteville 3.2
79 Central Washington University 3.1
80 University of Central Florida 3.1
81 Clemson University 3.1
82 Indiana University-Bloomington 3.1
83 SUNY at Albany 3.1
84 Texas Tech University 3.1
85 North Dakota State University-Main Campus 3.1
86 SUNY at Binghamton 3.1
87 The University of Texas at Austin 3.1
88 University of Nevada-Reno 3.1
89 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 3.1
90 University of Arkansas 3.1
91 George Mason University 3.1
92 Michigan State University 3.0
93 Minnesota State University-Mankato 3.0
94 University of Maryland-Baltimore County 3.0
95 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus 3.0
96 Pittsburg State University 3.0
97 Towson University 3.0
98 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 3.0
99 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 3.0
100 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 3.0

Here are some interesting data we found with respect to the top 100 public 4-year school list:

  • 4 CUNY schools made it to the list (Baruch, Queens, Brooklyn, and Hunter College).
  • 17 California schools made it to the list.
  • The average test scores are as follows:
    • SAT Verbal: 558.92
    • SAT Math: 586.49
    • SAT Writing: 562.2
    • ACT English: 25.01
    • ACT Math: 25.19
    • ACT Writing: 8
  • The average admission rate is as follows:
    • Top 10 Schools = 42%
    • Top 20 Schools = 48%
    • Top 30 Schools = 53%
    • Top 40 Schools = 54%
    • Top 50 Schools = 56%
    • Top 60 Schools = 58%
    • Top 70 Schools = 58%
    • Top 80 Schools = 59%
    • Top 90 Schools = 60%
    • Top 100 Schools = 61%
  • The average annual net price for federal financial aid recipients, after aid from the school, state, or federal government, is $13,128.
    • An average of 32% receive Pell Grants.
    • An average of 44% of undergraduates receive federal student loan.
  • The average median earning (10 years after entry) of the top 100 schools is $50,188.

C. Here is a list of the top 100 private 4-year schools and their Earnings to Tuition Ratios (average earnings to tuition ratios of 2.0 to one for this data subset):

Rank School Ratio
1 Princeton University 11.0
2 Berea College 10.9
3 Harvard University 6.8
4 Stanford University 5.9
5 Christian Brothers University 5.5
6 Brigham Young University-Idaho 4.9
7 Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art 4.8
8 Brigham Young University-Provo 4.5
9 University of the Sciences 4.0
10 Rice University 3.9
11 Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 3.8
12 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3.8
13 Pomona College 3.7
14 Yale University 3.7
15 Claremont McKenna College 3.6
16 Brigham Young University-Hawaii 3.5
17 Vanderbilt University 3.5
18 Illinois Institute of Technology 3.5
19 Mount Carmel College of Nursing 3.5
20 Columbia University in the City of New York 3.4
21 Saint Joseph’s College-New York 3.3
22 MCPHS University 3.3
23 Davidson College 3.3
24 University of Pennsylvania 3.3
25 Holy Family University 3.2
26 St Francis College 3.2
27 Amherst College 3.2
28 Milwaukee School of Engineering 3.1
29 Saint Peter’s University 3.1
30 Kettering College 3.1
31 Newman University 3.1
32 California Institute of Technology 3.1
33 Georgetown University 3.1
34 College of the Ozarks 3.0
35 Duke University 3.0
36 Lincoln Memorial University 3.0
37 Notre Dame of Maryland University 3.0
38 Baker University 3.0
39 Stevens Institute of Technology 3.0
40 Washington and Lee University 3.0
41 Bowdoin College 2.9
42 Babson College 2.8
43 Chatham University 2.7
44 Caldwell University 2.7
45 Saint Xavier University 2.7
46 Cedar Crest College 2.7
47 Ranken Technical College 2.7
48 University of St Francis 2.6
49 Dominican University 2.6
50 Colgate University 2.6
51 Benedictine University 2.6
52 College of Mount Saint Vincent 2.6
53 Case Western Reserve University 2.6
54 McKendree University 2.6
55 Wellesley College 2.6
56 Haverford College 2.6
57 Lewis University 2.5
58 St Mary’s University 2.5
59 Aquinas College 2.5
60 Cox College 2.5
61 Harvey Mudd College 2.5
62 Saint Johns University 2.5
63 University of St Thomas 2.5
64 Dartmouth College 2.5
65 Aurora University 2.5
66 Middlebury College 2.5
67 Williams College 2.5
68 Waynesburg University 2.5
69 Mount Saint Joseph University 2.5
70 The College of Saint Scholastica 2.5
71 Clarkson University 2.5
72 Cornell University 2.5
73 John Brown University 2.5
74 Lehigh University 2.5
75 Martin Luther College 2.4
76 University of Chicago 2.4
77 Bentley University 2.4
78 Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health 2.4
79 Presbyterian College 2.4
80 University of Richmond 2.4
81 Carnegie Mellon University 2.4
82 Regent University 2.4
83 Brown University 2.4
84 DigiPen Institute of Technology 2.4
85 Valparaiso University 2.4
86 North Park University 2.4
87 Ohio Northern University 2.4
88 University of Southern California 2.4
89 University of Notre Dame 2.4
90 Bryan College of Health Sciences 2.4
91 Monmouth College 2.4
92 University of Jamestown 2.4
93 Hamilton College 2.4
94 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 2.4
95 LeTourneau University 2.4
96 Birmingham Southern College 2.4
97 Northwestern University 2.4
98 The Sage Colleges 2.4
99 Wheeling Jesuit University 2.4
100 Elmhurst College 2.3

Here are some interesting data we found with respect to the top 100 private 4-year school list:

  • All 8 Ivy Leagues made it to the list.
  • 12 New York and 9 PA schools made it to the list.
  • The average test scores are as follows:
    • SAT Verbal: 606.72
    • SAT Math: 624.24
    • SAT Writing: 622.65
    • ACT English: 26.92
    • ACT Math: 26.77
    • ACT Writing: 8.6
  • The average admission rate is as follows:
    • Top 10 Schools = 34%
    • Top 20 Schools = 31%
    • Top 30 Schools = 40%
    • Top 40 Schools = 39%
    • Top 50 Schools = 40%
    • Top 60 Schools = 43%
    • Top 70 Schools = 44%
    • Top 80 Schools = 45%
    • Top 90 Schools = 45%
    • Top 100 Schools = 46%
  • The average annual net price for federal financial aid recipients, after aid from the school, state, or federal government, is $19,963.
    • An average of 28% receive Pell Grants.
    • An average of 47% of undergraduates receive federal student loan.
  • The average median earning (10 years after entry) of the top 100 schools is $57,786.

If you are interested in using TUN’s School Analysis Tool for a more detailed search, click here.

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