Understanding the value of higher education is important in laying a solid career foundation. If you look closely, most well-paying jobs came at a huge upfront cost. In order to get your money’s worth, our list below outlines some of the worst four-year institutions to spend your money on.
These rankings have largely been drawn from data that’s publicly available, such as the rate of employment, incomes, and the tuition costs (adjusted for financial aid). Additionally, data on student loans and their default rates was gathered from the College Factual site.
In these rankings, schools with less than 2,000 students have been excluded. Except for states with less than five big schools, where smaller schools were also included. Schools affiliated to a specific cultural heritage or faith were also excluded. Take a look at how they rank.
1. Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island
Attending Johnson and Wales University costs a little over $ 12,000 above the average price. Of course having accounted for the proportion of financial aid granted to students. That’s a steep sum to raise on your own.
Within a span of four years therefore, a student who relies on loan to finance their degree would have accumulated a debt of about $ 36,804. Sadly, the job market doesn’t commensurate that much later on.
Six years following graduation, the median salary alumni from this university make is a paltry $ 38,800 only. You end up denying your career a competitive edge.
2. Southern New Hampshire University in New Hampshire
The mean net tuition price per year in SNHU is $ 34,984, representing double the national average. To undertake a four-year course, the standard student loan arrear stands at a whopping $ 30,044. By any standards, that’s a dishearteningly high sum.
So much so that the default rate for students relying on loan is skyrocketing. Most of these students have been known to default at a rate of 12.4%. Yet their alumni only make a scanty $ 45,400 within six years of graduating.
For a non-profit institution, SNHU is still perceived as a money-oriented college by some students. Next up is Sierra Nevada College.
3. Sierra Nevada University in Nevada
With an average net tuition price per year of $ 30,352, Sierra Nevada University represents one of the costliest universities, especially given its small size.
Even though their alumni earn decently after a considerably long time in the job market, the gateway to that peak is rather steep and uncomfortable. The median income within six years of graduation currently stand at $ 42,100.
Their rate of graduation falls below the national average at only 47% with mean student loan arrears of $ of $ 21,524 in the four years of education. Some alumni recall the college being the worst for their growth and insist it didn’t offer them their money’s worth.
4. ECPI University in Virginia Beach, Virginia
With an average net annual price of $ 18,664 which is still greater than the average, ECPI University qualifies as a costly college. Despite struggling to pay that much for an education, your payoffs don’t reflect in your pay slip as soon as you would hope. In fact, some call it a degree factory!
Within the four years of study, a student accumulates a student loan arrear burden amounting to $ 36,644. What do they get in return?
A median income of $ 34,600 within the first six years of toiling hard. It is no wonder ECPI students fail to repay their student loans at a rate of 13.7%.
5. Northeastern State University in Oklahoma
Even though the tuition fee in this university is relatively low compared to others in the list, the payoffs remain undesirable to a large extent.
With an average annual price of $ 9,138 only, it is fairly easy to get into NSU. Sadly, not very many students conclude their journey. In fact, NSU has a rate of acceptance of 98% yet only 35% of students who join actually get to the finish line and graduate.
Domiciled in a small city, the career prospects following graduation may be extremely low. The median income following six years of graduating stands at only $ 35,800.
6. Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts
At least two major things are needed to be accepted into Berklee College of Music. Skills because the rate of acceptance is extremely low at only 48% and loads of cash because the tuition fee is extremely high at $ 43,799. That’s over $ 28,000 more than the average.
Students who attend this college largely survive on student loans averaging $ 51,280 over the four-year course. If you get lucky and find a job, within the first six years your income will be $ 21,000 less than your student loan. Such a pity!
In fact, some alumni term it ‘Berklee College of Money!’
7. Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois
Even after factoring in financial aid the average cost of attending Columbia College is still ridiculously high. At $ 31,269, it represents over two times the average.
In the six years following graduation, the median income ($ 34,400) is only slightly greater than the average but not so far apart from the normal student arrear burden of $ 31,824.
According to alumni sentiments, on top of the high tuition fee, the cost of housing within the campus is overpriced, to say the least. A student has to part with an additional $ 14,000 or more to be housed for two semesters.
8. Henry Ford College in Michigan
An average net cost of $ 3,299 is incredibly low, right? Well, believe it or not, that’s the much it will cost you to attend Henry Ford College. But wait, there is more.
With such a low tuition fee, the rate of acceptance stands at 100%. You would think that that’s a great deal until you learn that only 6% of students here actually end up graduating! Shocking, right?
What’s even more depressing is the median income alumni here earn six years following graduation. At only $ 31,400, the national average is much better. Student loan defaults stand at 21.8%.
9. CUNY Medgar Evers College in New York
The average tuition fee here is relatively affordable at only $ 6,677. Equally, the student debt burden is fairly low at only $ 13,256 within a four-year program.
The median income six years following graduation exceeds the national average and stands at $ 35,900. Even though attending this college is not very restrictive, the rate of graduation is still quite low. That figure currently stands at only 13% of the total enrolled students.
Some alumni have attributed the low rate of graduation to unattainably high program standards, such as the nursing program. Keep reading to find out which college in next on our list
10. University of Alaska in Anchorage, Alaska
Even though Alaska has not very many college options, the University of Alaska experience isn’t all that bad. The tuition fee is very much affordable at only $ 13,288. This comes with a decent median income six years following graduation at $ 45,400, significantly greater than the average.
The student loan arrear burden is also quite low at only $ 22,140, making it a highly accessible college. However, the rate of graduating isn’t very encouraging. At only 30%, it below par.
Some alumni have been quoted decrying the university’s poor management as a cause for the bad experience they had there.
11. Waldorf University in Iowa
A median remuneration of $ 37,800 following six years of work is slightly greater than the average. This is what you get after spending your four years at Waldorf University on an annual average tuition fee of $ 19,983.
To cover that fee, a student loan of $ 28,340 has to be part of your stay at Waldorf University for the four-year journey. Even though this is quite a high figure, the default rate on debt is not as high (7.7%). That said, many students still find the college quite expensive.
Keep reading to see which colleges are next in this ranking.
12. Goddard College in Vermont
Lack of medium sized and large colleges in Vermont forced Goddard College into our list. Even though it’s only a small college.
The cost of attending this college is rather high compared to the income results you are going to reap. With an average annual tuition fee of $ 23,187 and a median income of a scanty $ 25,400, which happens to below the national average, the value for money can hardly be seen.
If you also compare that to the $ 31,452 four-year student debt, getting a decent education at Goddard College feels a little more overpriced, don’t you think?
13. Frostburg State University in Maryland
Frostburg State University is considerably affordable for the quality education it provides. The average annual tuition fee is beneath the average at only $ 13,980. With that comes a median income of a whopping $ 44,600, way greater than the average.
Even though it is quality, the education comes at an extra cost. To undertake a four-year course, the student debt burden can rise as high as $ 28,628, which is a relatively steep sum.
Some senior students and alumni have complained of the outdated state of facilities within the college, possibly affecting the learning experience altogether. Indeed, it does play a huge role in the students’ experience.
14. Tyler Junior College in Texas
Even though the tuition is fairly cheap at only $ 9,484, a rate of graduation of only 19% isn’t very inspiring, is it? This clearly indicates a problem in the institution.
The median income following six years of graduating stands at only $ 32,500, falling below the national average. The rate of loan default for borrowing students at Tyler Junior College is rather high at 18.8%, demanding budgetary moderation for learners.
For most alumni of Tyler Junior College, the overall experience here is just average. On this picture, you can see a group from Tyler Junior College performing on the streets.
15. Brookline College in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Brookline College in New Mexico represents another small university due to insufficient medium and large universities in New Mexico. Even though small, the college has its downsides.
The average annual tuition price stands at $ 25,206, which is about $ 10,000 above the national average. That’s a significant separation. Despite a costly tuition, the median income 6 years following graduation is quite low at $ 21,900. That represents a little more than $ 11,000 below the national average.
Furthermore, within the four years, a student is expected to accrue an arrear burden of $ 51,636 leading to a 20% default rate.
16. Missouri Southern State University in Missouri
A mediocre median salary of $ 33,300 six years following graduation comes at an annual average tuition fee of $ 9,446. In other words, both the tuition and the payoffs of education are rather average.
In the four years of study, a student will wind up with a student loan arrear burden of $ 19,488. The rate of non-repayment on these loans is quite high at 11.4% compared to the average.
Some students assert that most of the fees and charges are completely unnecessary. This has been cited as having affected the overall learning experience. The next college on our list is located in Delaware.
17. Delaware Technical Community College-Terry
The average cost of tuition in Delaware Technical Community College is a meagre $ 8,261. The career payoffs on the other hand are quite depressing at only $ 31,300 six years following graduation, falling below the national average.
Even though the student debt burden in this college is rather low at only $ 12,980 within the four years, most graduates still battle with repayment. That can be evidenced by the 13.4% rate of loan non-repayment experienced by borrowing students here.
Despite a 100% acceptance rate, only a paltry 14% of total enrolled students end up graduating. That really is a very low rate.
18. Black Hills State University in South Dakota
The average net tuition fee for Black Hill State University students stands at $ 15,317, almost touching the national average. Despite that, many still struggle to attend.
Those opting for a student loan wind up with a whopping $ 28,250 to repay after completing their four-year programs.
The rate of graduation in this state university stands at 34%. Despite that, 93% of alumni in here secure employment in just under two years of graduating. And after the first six years, their median income sits at $ 35,900. It terms of education, many alumni rate it as high quality. Next up is a college in Hawaii.
19. University of Hawaii Maui College in Hawaii
This college has been featured in our list as a small university due to insufficient medium and large universities in this state.
Both the average annual tuition cost and the median income six years following graduation fall below the average. That is $ 10,373 and $ 29,900 respectively.
Despite a student loan arrear burden of only $ 19,864 within a four-year period, most borrowing students still end up defaulting at a 23% rate. This represents over two times the average. The rate of graduation is also quite low at only 16%. Many feel that the career options here are limited.
20. University of Wisconsin in Parkside
Many medium-sized and large universities in Wisconsin have a good score in terms of everything. Except maybe the University of Wisconsin in Parkside.
The college has a below average net annual tuition fee of only $ 10,409 and its experienced alumni take home an above average median income of $ 39,900 following six years in the job market.
Having said that, it’s not any easier to enroll for this college. The overall rate of acceptance currently stands at only 67% amounting to a lower rate of graduation of a mere 38%. Most alumni have cited a high level of dissatisfaction due to a poor money’s worth.
21. Wichita State University in Kansas
The annual average tuition fee at Wichita State University falls slightly below the average at only $ 14,256 making it rather affordable. The median income following six years of graduating on the other hand, is equally amazing standing at a whopping $ 40,400.
The downside manifests in the high student debt one has to repay. To undertake a four-year course, the overall debt accrued stands at $ 32,636. But with the decent salary, many alumni are able to meet their debt obligation as evidenced by the low rate of loan non-repayment of only 8.5%. Can you guess which North Carolina college is the next one on the list?
22. University of North Carolina in Pembroke
The average annual tuition fee is reasonably affordable here. It currently stands at only $ 11,576, way below the national average. But even after receiving an affordable education, the job market doesn’t pay off with such enthusiasm.
The median income for a UNC graduate is rather average at only $ 34,400. These same graduates end up with a loan arrear burden of $ 22,368 after their four-year term ceases. The rate of loan defaulters aligns well with the national average.
Some senior students feel a lot more could be done to enhance their learning experience. The university should consider these experiences to improve their offer.
23. McNeese State University in Louisiana
In terms of value, McNeese State University isn not so badly off. With an annual average tuition price of merely $ 9,985, getting an education here is fairly cheap.
Following six years of graduation, a McNeese State University alumni stands to earn a median income of $ 38,200, topping the national average by more than $ 5,000. A regular student here carries an arrear burden of $ 19,816 for their four-year course. However, the rate of loan default is greater than the average at 13.6%.
Most learners have been quoted lamenting over the value for money they end up getting.
24. Olympic College in Washington
With a super low average annual tuition fee of merely $ 5,626, getting a passable education is pretty cheap at Olympic College. The median earnings for a graduate here following six years of their graduation is only $ 33,200, standing very near to the average.
Students at Olympic College only graduate at a 24% rate of the total enrollment. The rate of loan default is more than the average at 17.8%.
Many reviewers observe that there is still room for improvement. The students should be given an opportunity to give feedback in order to improve the college’s offer in an efficient way.
25. Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado
Getting a college education from Pikes Peak College is fairly cheap. The average tuition fee is only $ 8,858. That means, the standard student loan is also rather small at only $ 16,296 within the four years of study. However, paying off the loan is not as easy as it seems. The rate of loan default stands at 13.7%.
The school notes that the rate of graduation stands at only 23%. Those who successfully graduate end up pocketing $ 31,300 as their median income six years later.
The low rate of graduation is largely attributed to the high transiency of military-affiliated students.
26. Bemidji State University in Minnesota
$ 14,814 represents the average net tuition cost to be accepted into Bemidji State University. That’s relatively cheap as opposed to the average. The returns of such an affordable education are quite impressive as well.
Six years following graduation, alumni here generate a median remuneration of a whopping $ 40,600. By any standard, that’s quite decent. The student loan to sustain a course for four years is also quite high at $ 31,052.
Some student reviewers say the financial aid department could do better in availing alternative funding. The next university on our list is located in Pennsylvania, keep reading to find out which one it is.
27. Edinboro University in Pennsylvania
Students who attend Edinboro University part with a mean tuition fee of only $ 15,223. For those who rely on student loans, they end up with an arrear burden of $ 31,324 over the course of four years. That’s quite a substantial sum.
The upside however, is the fact that just 9.4% of borrowing students end up defaulting. Also, the median income these graduates generate after spending six years in the labor force is fairly decent at $ 35,400, sitting a little over the average.
Most reviewers praise it for affordability but discredit it for the poor life quality of their students.
28. Unitek College in Fremont, California
As much as the rate of graduation at Unitek College is 100%, the $ 50,281 average net tuition price is rather steep, more than tripling the national average.
The standard student loan arrear is also quite high at $ 45,624 within the four years of study. However, the rate of loan default is not as high. It matches the national average.
Data on the median income Unitek College Alumni make 6 years following graduation is not available at the moment. We can only hope it’s equally high considering the huge investment incurred to study here. The next slide shows a college based in Montana.
29. Montana State University in Billings
The median income following six years of graduating from Montana State University still beats the national average to stand at $ 34,600. That’s after paying a relatively small tuition fee of only $ 11,859, factoring in the financial aid element.
The average debt required to finance a four year course at Montana State University is $ 27,436. Despite both the tuition fee and student loan being low, only 29% of students finally graduate.
Some students have acclaimed it for the great community encompassing the college. The next one on our list is located in Nebraska, and you might have heard of it.
30. Wayne State College in Nebraska
Attending Wayne State College is highly affordable because the average net tuition fee is beneath the average at $ 13,193. The payoffs are even better. Six years following graduation, an alumni of Wayne State College generates a median income of $ 36,100, which is greater than the average.
With a student loan arrear burden of $ 23,000 within a four-year course, only 7.5% of students here default on their loans.
Some students feel more needs to be done to enhance the overall learning experience. Hopefully the college will allocate some time and some funding to fixing the lacks students have encountered.
31. Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama
An average net tuition cost of merely $ 12,807 is considerably below the $ 15,523 national average. That speaks to the fact that Auburn University is fairly cheap to attend. The student loan for a four-year course is fairly low as well at only $ 22,556.
The college is extremely welcoming with a rate of acceptance of 93%, opening its doors to a vast majority of the applicants. Even so, only 34% of those enrolled end up graduating, placing this rate at below the 50% national average.
Some reviewers feel more vibrancy and diversity needs to be factored into student activities.
32. Florida Technical College, Orlando
The return on investment after studying in Florida Technical College is rather depressing. After paying a net average tuition fee of $ 15,442, almost aligning with the national average, what you get in the job market is not commensurate enough.
Six years following graduation and being in the labor force, a graduate only earns a paltry $ 24,600 in form of annual median income. That’s way beneath the average and the loan arrears you would be expected to repay after four years.
The next college in the ranking is based in Arizona, keep reading to find out which one it is.
33. Grand Canyon University in Arizona
Even though the net average tuition cost a student pays to attend Grand Canyon University is well above the national average, the accompanying pay offs aren’t so bad. Spending $ 21,403 in tuition fee to end up with an annual median income of $ 52,700 only 6 years following graduation is truly worth the investment. This makes up about $ 20,000 above the $ 33,028 national average.
Within the four-year study period, the student is expected to rack up a student loan arrear burden of $ 28,540. This comes with a significantly low default rate, especially given the lucrative income.
34. Morehead State University in Kentucky
A graduate of Morehead State University is expected to earn a median income of $ 33,100 six years following graduation. That’s after incurring a mere $ 12,528 in tuition fees, a figure well below par.
The standard student loan is however quite high at $ 24,384 for the four-year program period. The loan default isn’t very further from the national average and sits at only 10.7%.
Nonetheless, some alumni still insist they got a raw deal from Morehead State University because they were denied the essential skills needed to succeed in their careers. That is a shame because it might impact seriously their chances on the labor market.
35. Minot State University in North Dakota
There are very few alternatives of colleges in North Dakota. Even so, Minot State University still seems to be on the tail end. The only impressive aspect is the below par tuition cost of only $ 10,153.
Being affordable, the college doesn’t disappoint either in affording its graduates a decent living. Following six years in the job market, a Minot State University graduate is set to earn a whopping $ 41,200, exceeding the national average.
Borrowing students end up with a loan arrear burden of $ 22,548 after completing their four-year course. The loan default is relatively low at only 8.3%.
36. University of Akron in Ohio
After spending six years in the labor force, a graduate from the University of Akron reaps $ 36,500 only in annual median income. The cost to get to that level of earning is about $ 16,269 in tuition fee. That represents a good income, but not at all exceptional compared to other top ranking universities in the list.
The University of Akron has a slightly lower rate of acceptance of only 69%. Getting admission seems like a real job. However, just 39% of those who enroll actually graduate. To get to graduation, a student here will have accrued a loan debt of $ 27,288.
37. University of Maine in Augusta
In our list, University of Maine is classified as a small university owing to the limited number of medium-sized and big universities in Maine.
Yes, the average tuition fee may fall beneath the average at only $ 9,899, but beware of the returns to the job market. Following six years of graduating, alumni of the University of Maine only pocket a meagre $ 27,700, way beneath the national average.
The rate on loan default is more than the average at 16.8%, accompanied by a low rate of graduation of only 18%. Some reviewers rate it as merely an average school.
38. Western Oregon University in Oregon
Almost parallel to the average, the cost of enrolling to Western Oregon University stands at $ 15,496. However, the career returns rank greater than the average.
A Western Oregon University alumni is expected to earn $ 39,700 six years following their graduation. For the four years a student spends here, they are expected to rack up a loan debt of $ 23,696 with an extremely low default rate.
Some reviewers assert that the degree value here is great and highly respected in the job market. We still have two colleges on our list, keep reading to see which ones they are.
39. Delta State University in Mississippi
Among the small universities in our list, Delta State University happens to be the largest. The student population here is only slightly below the 2,000 threshold. It is located in Cleveland, Mississippi. Have you heard of this college before?
The net tuition price falls below the national average at only $ 12,814 and the median alumni earnings following six years in the job market is a little over the national average at $ 33,700.
After four years of study, a student accrues an average loan debt of $ 24,084 with only a default rate of 10.3%. Next is one more Carolina University.
40. Coastal Carolina University, South Carolina
The burden to pay a $ 16,368 average net tuition fee is quite huge for students at Coastal Carolina University. A typical student borrower has to accrue up to $ 37,692 of student loan within their four years of study.
The repayment may take a bit more time, considering the meagre $ 38,500 of median income they are expected to earn six years following graduation.
Some reviewers feel the quality of learning is really wanting. No real value for money! Hopefully students are motivated enough to keep studying until graduation and do not drop off earlier. Maybe some adjustments could be made to encourage them.