2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

college return investment mit
  • 20-year return on investment: $973,800
  • Avg. total cost: $220,400
  • Avg. annual scholarships and grants: $34,641

MIT grads enter high-paying science and engineering fields that allow them to recoup the cost of their expensive college degree much more quickly than peers in other fields.

The PayScale report found that schools that offer strong programs in science, technology, engineering and math often had a higher return on investment.

"When it comes to earnings, yes, it's all about STEM," Bardaro said.

MIT alums can expect to make almost $1 million more over 20 years than their peers who didn't attend school and went straight to work.

First published April 7, 2014: 7:15 AM ET
Source: PayScale
PayScale economists calculated the total median pay for a school's undergraduate alumnus over a 20-year career and compared it to that of a high school graduate who worked for 24 to 26 years. They then subtracted the college's average cost of attending -- including tuition, room and board, and books -- and took scholarships and grants into account. From that, they determined the school's return on investment (in 2013 dollars). Alumni who went onto graduate school or other higher education were excluded from the calculations.

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