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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