Colleges With The Lowest-Paid Graduates

colleges lowest paid graduates

Having worked their way through four years of school, many recent college graduates are eager to find jobs with a decent paycheck. And so are their parents.

But which colleges offer the best bang for the buck? A new report by PayScale, which tracks data on employee compensation, crunched the numbers. It lists the starting and mid-career salaries of some 1.5 million graduates with bachelor's degrees who attended one of more than 1,050 colleges and universities in the U.S.

At The Bottom

Colleges in the Southeast and Midwest -- a majority of them private institutions -- dominate the rankings of graduates reporting the lowest starting salaries. That may reflect the lower wages that are typical in those regions, compared to other parts of the country.

Nevertheless, graduates of Coker College in South Carolina and College of the Ozarks in Missouri ranked dead last for starting salaries. Graduates of those private schools reported that they earned median annual pay of $26,800 and $28,400, respectively.

The Best Paid

Compare that to the salaries paid to civilian graduates of the military academies at West Point in New York ($76,800) and Annapolis in Maryland ($72,200) that topped the survey.

The Lowest-Paying Public Colleges

You'd think that public universities and colleges would offer good value, given their lower tuition rates, but among public colleges and universities, graduates of the seven institutions noted below, shown in descending order, reported the lowest starting salaries, according to PayScale's data:


5. Indiana University, Southeast
  • Starting salary: $32,400.
  • Mid-career salary: $58,900.
  • Percentage of grads who think their job is meaningful: 48%.

4. Jackson State University (Mississippi)
  • Starting salary: $31,700.
  • Mid-career salary: $52,200.
  • Percentage of grads who think their job is meaningful: 74%.

3. (tie) University of Montevallo (Alabama)
  • Starting salary: $31,200.
  • Mid-career salary: $51,600.
  • Percentage of grads who think their job is meaningful: 48%.

3. (tie) Alabama State University
  • Starting salary: $31,200.
  • Mid-career salary: $52,700.
  • Percentage of grads who think their job is meaningful: 67%.

3. (tie) Savannah State University (Georgia)
  • Starting salary: $31,200.
  • Mid-career salary: $53,600.
  • Percentage of grads who think their job is meaningful: N/A.

2. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  • Starting salary: $30,900.
  • Mid-career salary: $50,300.
  • Percentage of grads who think their job is meaningful: N/A.

1. Wayne State College (Nebraska)
  • Starting salary: $29,300.
  • Mid-career salary: $56,800.
  • Percentage of grads who think their job is meaningful: 62%.

To find the list of colleges with the highest-paid grads, go here.


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casey0272

Unless you are independently wealthy, you must choose a major that will lead to a well-paying career. It's great if your teenager loves to write stories or poetry, but he/she should understand that, chances are, there won't be a job in that field after graduation--at least one that will pay the bills. The sciences are usually a good bet--engineering, medical, computers, mathematics, etc.

You can always go back to college later for liberal arts/humanities courses. Most good colleges and universities have great evening and weekend programs.

October 07 2012 at 7:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rudymvp1

I went the community college route, 2 years Associates Degree in Nuring which makes one a Registered Nurse once ya pass boards. Only cost me 10k and thats with books included! And yes, contrary to populat beleif you do NOT need a bachelors degree to become a RN. Alot of community colleges offer a RN through a 2 year program. I may eventually get a bachelors in nursing but theres no financial incentive to do so, RNs with bachelors degrees only make 2-3k more a year than i do at the hospital.

October 07 2012 at 6:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dukechute

Momma kicked me out house at 19. Immediately joined U.S. Army. Spent 13 years in and got my Associates in general studies and got off of Active duty. Now in U.S. Army Reserves and used Tuition Assistance to pay for my degree in Computer and Informational Science while working full time. Still have my Post 9-11 GI Bill. It took 15 years to obtain my degree but it paid off. No debt.

October 07 2012 at 5:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Why dont they include distance learning schools?

October 07 2012 at 4:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

College is a waste of money. It's just an excuse to put off joining the real world for 4 more years, and unfortunately many get to start out their adult life hopelessly in debt because of school.

October 07 2012 at 1:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mark's comment
Danielle

That's not true Mark. I'm a lawyer and I couldn't have been one had I not gone to college. Same is true if you're an engineer, doctor, architect, dentist, teacher, professor, and many other professions.

October 07 2012 at 5:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mobrown3

The school matters less than the discipline. Liberal Art majors have trouble finding jobs, engineers do not.

October 06 2012 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mobrown3's comment
Joyce

Exactly!

October 07 2012 at 2:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tyrone100

Some of the dumbest people I know have college degrees.

October 06 2012 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tyrone100's comment
maragall

obama, biden, pelosi, wasserman schultz et al must be your friends,too

October 07 2012 at 3:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
georgeb794

When will individuals learn that colleges and universities are businesses and sell degrees by the shiploads in the USA. Get a two year degree then direct yourself into the direction you want to go. A degree is a tool, you need to also know how to use it.

October 06 2012 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jo

Degrees that almost never pay off are those bachelor degrees awarded in liberal studies and any bachelor's degree that requires a master's or doctorate in order to actually become a professional in that field, such as anthropology, etc.

Given the dumbing down of American education, a bachelor's is now equivalent to what a high school diploma USED to be.

October 06 2012 at 8:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
MsV

All I know is, I went through a lot of money, a lot of time and hard work to get what I need to be able to get a good job and good pay. I eventually received a Masters Degree in Community Counseling and 3 years of equivalent Masters level education in Human Development. I then paid more money to take the State exam for a Professional Counselor's Licensure and a State License in Chemical Dependency. I sat for the LPC exam for 4 hours and failed by 2 points, paid another $200 again and passed the second time around. I have at least 10 years of experience in the Human Service field. I specialize in working with inmates, ex-felons and substance abusers. I also have experience with other populations such as children and adults with mental health and behavioral problems. There appears to be ALOT of jobs working with children, but although most problems that trickle down to children stem from problems with the parents, or other adults in their lives. However, why aren’t there jobs out there to help these adults... why isn’t there way more companies that help adults with criminal backgrounds and substance abuse issues? Where are the programs to help these individuals. I have even lived in a city that allows one organization to have a monopoly over all of the programs to help the adult inmates, ex-felons with substance abuse histories and they are allowed to get away with it. If you don't work for this agency, you don't work in my field. This agency tells the public and the department of rehabilitation & corrections they are helping these men (and women) and they are not. They are doing more harm than good and basically they are not doing what they say they are doing. They don't even pay a competitive wage to their employees. I have literally had a case load of 99+ clients and would work 12+ hours a day. This is not good for the worker or the client. The turnover rate at this agency is huge (wish asking about their turnover rate was an appropriate question to ask at the interview). I love what I do..I love helping people, but dam!!! Thanks for letting me share. Who else out there has problems finding work with their degrees and or licensures? Who else has some truth they'd like to tell about some companies out there?

October 06 2012 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to MsV's comment
kbclara

Social work for adults is just busy work. it's something society thinks it should do but it'll never pay much. Trying to teach adults, teach them how to be responsible, make their way in life at that point? Interacting with people, directing them to "programs" - how difficult is that? So the degrees for busy work are not valuable. Besides, they expect you will be fulfilled by contributing to the greater good That's why it doesn't pay much and never will. Better to go into private counseling.
" why isn’t there way more companies that help adults with criminal backgrounds and substance abuse issues? " It takes taxpayer money.

October 07 2012 at 12:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ImportantFacts

No offense, but your spelling and sentence structure do not indicate a master's level education.

October 07 2012 at 3:47 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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