The 20 US colleges with the best return on your investment 40 years after you've enrolled

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  • The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce published a study titled "A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 colleges."
  • It ranks universities by their return on investment (ROI) for students 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 years after enrollment.
  • Forty years after enrollment, the top 20 schools with the highest ROI include four maritime or Marine institutions and two Ivy League schools. The top three spots are claimed by pharmacy colleges.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A degree from a small New York pharmacy college is more likely to give you a better bang for your buck than a pricey Ivy League school, according to a new report.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) published a study titled "A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 colleges" on Thursday that lists US colleges by their return-on-investment measures (ROI) in 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 years after enrollment.Advertisement

The ROI measure of the study is called "net present value" (NPV), which Georgetown University CEW defines as "how much a sum of money in the future is valued today." NPV includes measures such as costs, future earnings, and "length of time it would take to invest and earn a certain amount of money over a fixed horizon."

Georgetown University CEW found that after 40 years, private colleges had a higher average ROI for bachelor's degrees than public colleges. It also found that certificate programs and community colleges had the highest ROI rankings at the 10-year post-enrollment milestone, but they were surpassed by bachelor's degrees in the long term.

Of the top 20 universities, four were either maritime or Marine institutions, and two were Ivy League schools. The top three schools with the highest NPV after 40 years were all pharmacy colleges: MCPHS University, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, and Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
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On Business Insider's list, we also provide two additional measures for each university from the Department of Education's College Scorecard: six-year graduation rate for first-time bachelor's students (based on data from the 2017-2018 academic year) and median student loan principal at the start of repayment (based on data from the 2016-2017 academic year).

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20. Bentley University

20. Bentley University

Location: Waltham, Massachusetts

Graduation rate: 91%

Median debt: $25,000

10-year NPV: $158,000

40-year NPV: $1,786,000

19. Colorado School of Mines

19. Colorado School of Mines

Location: Golden, Colorado

Graduation rate: 78%

Median debt: $21,915

10-year NPV: $203,000

40-year NPV: $1,794,000

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18. California Institute of Technology

18. California Institute of Technology

Location: Pasadena, California

Graduation rate: 89%

Median debt: $11,500

10-year NPV: $200,000

40-year NPV: $1,810,000

17. California State University Maritime Academy

17. California State University Maritime Academy

Location: Vallejo, California

Graduation rate: 64%

Median debt: $20,500

10-year NPV: $265,000

40-year NPV: $1,818,000

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16. University of Pennsylvania

16. University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Graduation rate: 96%

Median debt: $12,500

10-year NPV: $220,000

40-year NPV: $1,832,000

15. Stevens Institute of Technology

15. Stevens Institute of Technology

Location: Hoboken, New Jersey

Graduation rate: 83%

Median debt: $26,000

10-year NPV: $162,000

40-year NPV: $1,833,000

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14. Harvey Mudd College

14. Harvey Mudd College

Location: Claremont, California

Graduation rate: 96%

Median debt: $21,254

10-year NPV: $187,00

40-year NPV: $1,851,000

13. Massachusetts Maritime Academy

13. Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Location: Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts

Graduation rate: 75%

Median debt: $23,250

10-year NPV: $246,00

40-year NPV: $1,869,00

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12. St. Paul's School of Nursing - Queens

12. St. Paul's School of Nursing - Queens

Location: Queens, New York

Graduation rate: 54% for less-than-four-year degree students

Median debt: $20,000

10-year NPV: $354,000

40-year NPV: $1,877,000

11. University of the Sciences

11. University of the Sciences

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Graduation rate: 73%

Median debt: $27,000

10-year NPV: $211,000

40-year NPV: $1,928,000

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10. United States Merchant Marine Academy

10. United States Merchant Marine Academy

Location: Kings Point, New York

Graduation rate: 74%

Median debt: $27,00

10-year NPV: $298,000

40-year NPV: $1,949,000

9. Georgetown University

9. Georgetown University

Location: Washington, DC

Graduation rate: 95%

Median debt: $14,750

10-year NPV: $198,000

40-year NPV: $1,950,000

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8. Harvard University

8. Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Graduation rate: 96%

Median debt: $7,000

10-year NPV: $286,000

40-year NPV: $1,967,000

7. Babson College

7. Babson College

Location: Babson Park, Massachusetts

Graduation rate: 92%

Median debt: $24,875

10-year NPV: $184,000

40-year NPV: $1,985,000

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6. Maine Maritime Academy

6. Maine Maritime Academy

Location: Castine, Maine

Graduation rate: 69%

Median debt: $27,000

10-year NPV: $251,000

40-year NPV: $2,043,000

5. Stanford University

5. Stanford University

Location: Stanford, California

Graduation rate: 94%

Median debt: $10,874

10-year NPV: $307,000

40-year NPV: $2,068,000

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4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Graduation rate: 94%

Median debt: $15,346

10-year NPV: $311,000

40-year NPV: $2,273,000

3. MCPHS University

3. MCPHS University

(Formerly known as the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences)

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Graduation rate: 74%

Median debt: $25,000

10-year NPV: $247,000

40-year NPV: $2,421,000

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2. St. Louis College of Pharmacy

2. St. Louis College of Pharmacy

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Graduation rate: 71%

Median debt: $19,500

10-year NPV: $389,000

40-year NPV: $2,714,000

1. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

1. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Location: Albany, New York

Graduation rate: 76%

Median debt: $25,000

10-year NPV: $385,000

40-year NPV: $2,714,000

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