Low-income students at these colleges tend to earn more in the long run |

Earnings over 40 years can exceed $1 million for low-income students earning associate’s degrees and certificates.


College still pays off financially for lower-income students, but some institutions pay more than others, according to a new analysis.

Students whose families earn $30,000 or less a year — who make up more than a third of U.S. college students — tend to earn less than their classmates, whether they attended a public or private institution, according to “The Colleges Where Low-Income Students Get”. the highest return on investment,” by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The gap also persists among students who earn a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree.

But when it comes to four-year degrees, public institutions are leading the way, helping low-income students reach an average of $951,000 in earnings over the next 40 years. Private institutions ($863,000) and for-profit colleges ($763,000) offer a lower return on investment, according to the report.

And while this order is true for associate’s degrees and certificates, lifetime earnings from those degrees can exceed $1 million for low-income students attending some colleges. Analysis of 2020 U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard data ranked several factors, including net price, percentage of students receiving Pell grants, and graduation rates for those students. He also considered net present value, which measures “how much money in the future is valued today.”

Despite the general conclusion that public institutions generally offer a higher return on investment, the report’s top 10 list reads almost like a typical “best college” ranking from private nonprofit organizations, including Georgetown, Stanford , Hartford, Tufts, MIT, Princeton, Duke and Yale. These institutions boast Pell graduation rates of over 90% and generate substantial revenue over 40 years, according to the study.

Major public institutions on the list include the Colorado School of Mines (30), Georgia Institute of Technology (47), University of Virginia (48), William & Mary (60), and University of California, Berkeley ( 63).

You can search the report by institution by by clicking here and scrolling down to the database.

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