20 Colleges Not Worth Their Tuition In 2012

As the class of 2012 prepares to graduate, another group of bright-eyed youths are anticipating beginning college life this fall. But many face the daunting challenge of affording it.

With the cost of a four-year degree escalating, many parents (and students) want to know they're getting good value for their education dollars.

So how do you know if you're getting a good return on your investment, or ROI? PayScale recently crunched the data of more than 850 colleges in the U.S., examining both in- and out-of-state tuition, when applicable, and what grads typically get back in lifetime earnings.

The calculations are based on the average amount that alumni of their respective colleges earned working -- minus the total cost of college -- and the amount they would have earned as a high school graduate.

The result is a list of winners and losers -- and as you can see below, some of the 20 colleges with the lowest ROI have recognizable names. But with any list of winners and losers, those institutions that ranked at the bottom have their defenders, as comment posted on PayScale's site show.

One graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, which finished dead last in PayScale's rankings with an ROI of -$189,000, said that he "wouldn't change a thing" about his educational experience.

"The skills that I learned through my degree program are incredibly valuable," said the student, who identified himself as Chris Brinlee Jr.

Others chimed in, arguing that PayScale's methodology is flawed. Noting that the survey multiplied ROI by the school's retention rate, "h.spaeth" argued that "It comes as no surprise then that all of the top schools for 'ROI' are private schools with high retention rates."

For more on which schools scraped the bottom in PayScale's ratings, check out the list below.

Rank: 1229 (tie)
Lewis & Clark College
2011 Cost: $189,100
30-year net return on investment (ROI): -$132,000*
Annual ROI: -0.3 percent**

University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA)
2011 cost: $119,800 (out-of-state)
30-year net ROI: -$132,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1231
Flagler College
2011 Cost: $103,700
30-year net ROI -$134,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1232
Concord University
2011 Cost: $97,120
30-year net ROI
-$135,000 annual
ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1233 (tie)
Cedarville University
2011 cost: $119,400
30-year net ROI -$141,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Columbus College of Art and Design
2011 cost: $153,300
30-year net ROI -$141,000
Annual ROI: -4.6 percent

Rank: 1235
University of Illinois at Springfield
2011 cost: $115,100 (out-of-state)
30-year net ROI -$143,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1236 (tie)
Anderson University (Indiana)
2011 Cost: $144,300
30-Year Net ROI -$148,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Jackson State University (JSU)
2011 Cost: $85,450
30-year net ROI -$148,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

University of Montevallo
2011 Cost: $72,140
30-year net ROI -$148,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1239 (tie)
Marywood University
2011 Cost: $165,900
30-year net ROI: -$161,000
Annual ROI: -7.8%

University of Montevallo
2011 Cost: $100,700 (Out-of-State)
30-year net ROI: -$161,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1241
Jackson State University (JSU)
2011 Cost: $117,900 (Out-of-State)
30-year net ROI: -$161,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1242
Nazareth College of Rochester
2011 Cost: $151,800
30-year net ROI: $-166,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1243
College of the Ozarks
2011 Cost: $104,200
30-year net ROI: $-176,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1244
Meredith College
2011 Cost: $142,100
30-year net ROI: -$179,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1245
Medaille College
2011 Cost: $130,100
30-year net ROI: -$184,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1246 (tie)
Judson University
2011 Cost: $151,100
30-year net ROI: $-186,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Seton Hill University
2011 Cost: $160,200
30-year net ROI: -$186,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

Rank: 1248
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
2011 Cost: $176,900
30-year net ROI: -$189,000
Annual ROI: less than -12.3 percent

*30-year net ROI: The total income of a graduate of this college will earn in 30 years of working, minus what they would have earned as a high school graduate and the cost of college (including tuition, room and board, book and supplies).
**Annual ROI: This is the expected value of the earnings differential divided by the weighted cost for a 2011 graduate, annualized to represent the percent of expected ROI received each year after graduation.


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174 Comments

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Ann Cocks

College of the Ozarks not worth its tuition? Are you insane? Their tuition is FREE. They do, however, require every student to work as their way of 'paying' and it's a strongly religious school, so it wouldn't be for everyone. I think kids who go there pay somewhere around $6,000 a year in room and board.

September 13 2012 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ivy Tokyo

Why isnt School of the Art Institute of Chicago on there?

May 17 2012 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ivy Tokyo's comment
lcluvablepets

My daughter went to the Art Institute of Chicago . Graduated in 2008 and went to work right away and is doing very well for herself. Working and living in downtown Chicago.

October 06 2012 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Retva

I looked at this article specifically to find Art Institute on there (I go to Pittsburgh) but it's not. I'd say it should be on there. 80-120,000 in tuition with salaries starting out below 27,000 in my major.

October 06 2012 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank Shifreen

This article is BS. I do not believe there are statistics that can tabulate the salaries of all the graduates, alumni, people that attended and did not graduate, or communities that surround the college and add to the quality of life of other than students.I do not believe such statistics exist. Art schools do not only create artists, but often because there are not art jobs per se, graduates move on to other things. I attended Pratt, under scholarship thank God, but I think the authors should include the criteria and studies that were made that led them to their concusions. I would hate to be in one of the schools mentioned, but I think the whole article is flawed, and unless proved otherwise, untrue

May 17 2012 at 9:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
V

Jackson State is listed twice. That means they must really suck!

May 17 2012 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
50 AKA Ferrari

LMAO thank goodness my college ain't on this list. PHEW!

May 17 2012 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Quantum

Unbelievable how many defensive commenters there are here blindly attacking the article. I was under the impression that most folks these days feel the cost of tuition is ludicrous. Apparently, at least 166 people below feel it is just great! A bargain even!

If people are going to pound their fists and demand that banks and corporations be held accountable for performance, why should private universities be let off the hook? I think it is *high time* someone hold private universities accountable for *their* performance. And guess what? Their performance is measured by how well their graduates go on to do.

I see many people here live in a fantasy land where you go to university to "enrich yourself" and mire yourself in debt so you can go on and work for charity. I applaud that. It's also not reality for 99% of people. The vast majority of students are taking loans to complete college to get a job. If a community college, or even in fact a vocational school, would have landed them in *better* financial shape long term, they *deserve* to know that no matter how passionate and protective you personally might feel about your beloved Alma mater.

May 17 2012 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ejocovt

eye jest gratilated frum 1 uv them collagess: eye hupe two entre poilatics; vot 4 i pleeeze

May 17 2012 at 6:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
litzergam

College is an expensive investment. Some degrees just aren't worth it. I didn't have a college fund, so after high school I went to community college. I worked part-time and applied for grants and scholarships. I finished my Associate's degree and had ZERO debt. I then transferred to an in-state university and still applied for every grant and scholarship I could find. I worked part-time as a cleaning person for the university to keep costs down. I finished my Bachelor's degree and only had $5,200 in student loan debt.

The key was that I applied for absolutely all financial aid available. I even applied to small $100-$500 local business scholarships. I asked my parents to stop claiming me on their taxes so that my part-time income was below the poverty range and I qualified for even more aid. I've made up the difference by having a good job and paying taxes each year. Look up FAFSA. The Pell Grant helped me a lot!

May 15 2012 at 12:29 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to litzergam's comment
Retva

Some people aren't fit for majors in state colleges. What if you're really good at architecture and planned to be one your whole life? There's no easy ride for those majors. You're basically in luck if you can manage to squeeze a bachelor's out between community college and state schools. Community college only covered a years' worth of gen-ed classes for my major, so my tuition is ions higher and so are the other majors within my range of talents and abilities. I work on the side to try to keep it at bay, but there's no cutting corners for me unless I wanted to be a certified teacher/banker/nurse, basically.

October 06 2012 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Spike

Where did this clown come from? Don't remember any ones' guarantee that college was a good financial investment. Like a lot of institutions in this country, they are pretty much just money machines self perpetuating.

May 14 2012 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
William T

The video failed to mention after attending a community college for two years and receiving your associated degree, find a job with an employer that will reimburse you for tuition so that you can finish your bachelors degree. Then move to a higher paying job (with a new employer if necessary) and get your employer to pay for your masters degree. Goal no student loans great career!

May 10 2012 at 7:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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