Get a Better ROI on Your Education in These 7 States

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If you went to a private college 36 years ago, you would have paid only $3,617 each year for college, according to the College Board. Today, you’d pay $33,479. That kind of price tag is enough to make you wonder whether college is worth the cost. One way to find out is to consider the return on investment of your degree.

Top 7 States Where College Is Worth the Cost

Student Loan Hero (SLH) crunched the numbers to figure out the ROI of college degrees across all 50 states. As the organization found out, where you live has a big impact on the value of your degree. For this survey, SLH compared the average salary of a worker with a high school diploma to that of a college graduate five years after graduation. It also looked at the cost of college in each state. The average graduate sees an ROI on their college degree of 52%. For students in these seven states, the returns were even greater. Here are the states where college gives you the most bang for your buck.

7. California

Earning your degree could give you a 102% five-year ROI in California.

Workers with a high school diploma make an average of about $27,963, whereas those with a bachelor’s bring in an average of $56,010. Thanks to this major boost, college grads make back the cost of college in just 2.5 years.

6. Arizona

A bachelor’s degree in Arizona will set you back an average of about $52,524, but you’ll make back that investment within 2.5 years. Plus, you’ll enjoy an average yearly salary of $48,159 after five years. Compared to just a high school degree, you’ll see a 79% pay bump.

5. Georgia

Georgia residents enjoy average salaries of $49,989 five years out of college. That’s 90% more than Georgians with a high school diploma, who make closer to $26,000. As a Georgia resident, a bachelor’s degree could nearly double your income.

4. Texas

College is also a worthwhile investment for people in the Lone Star State. The cost of a bachelor’s degree is a little high at $57,121, but Texans make that investment back in just 2.3 years. Five years after graduation, you could be making an average of $51,701 per year. If you didn’t go to college, your salary would be closer to the average $27,232.

3. Arkansas

Arkansas college grads see a 71% increase in pay after five years compared to workers with a high school diploma. Graduates make an average salary of $44,101, whereas workers who didn’t go to college make an average of $25,767.

Although Arkansas residents must pay $41,629 for college, they break even in just 2.3 years. Plus, Arkansas grads see an impressive 120% ROI on their college education after half a decade.

2. New Mexico

New Mexico students also enjoy a high ROI on their college degrees. In fact, the average grad sees a return of 151%. Wages for college grads are actually on the low side compared to other states. After five years, grads make an average of $43,257.

But compared to workers without a college degree, these grads see an average pay bump of $17,510. Plus, they don’t have to take on a lot of debt for college, since a bachelor’s degree costs just $34,945. Most college grads break even on their educational investment within two years.

1. Wyoming

Wyoming tops the list of states where college degrees have the highest ROI. Wyoming graduates make an average salary of $45,519. They make over $13,000 more per year than people without a college degree.

Students in Wyoming also see low costs for college credits. The average student pays just $22,422 for their degree. Within a few years, Wyoming grads see a whopping 203% return on their college education.

Consider ROI When Choosing a College

A college education isn’t just about investments and returns, of course. But with the high cost of tuition these days, you can’t afford not to think about ROI. Before taking on too much student debt, make sure to consider where you live, as well as other important factors.

  • Take location into account. The state you live in can have a big impact on both the cost of college and your future income. If colleges in your area are too expensive, you might consider attending school elsewhere (just remember to take into account any tuition differences if you don’t have residency in a state). If you’ve already graduated, you could move to reduce your cost of living.
  • Choose a lucrative major. Consider how your choice of major will impact your future earnings. Those who study engineering, for example, might start with higher salaries upon graduating than someone who studies psychology.
  • Set specific career goals. College involves a lot of exploration, but you should also think about what kind of work you’re good at and enjoy. By setting attainable career goals and working toward them, you can make the most of your college education.
  • Don’t forget about graduate school. If your future career requires a graduate degree, you’ll need to spend more money for further education. Instead of taking on too much debt for your undergrad, make room in your budget for future schooling.
  • Learn about student loan repayment and refinancing. Even if you don’t know what your future job will be or where you’ll live, you can calculate your future student loan payments to ensure they’re reasonable. Plus, you can learn how refinancing after college can save you money on interest.

A college education is an investment in yourself and your future. When choosing a school, make sure to consider where you’ll live and what you’ll do. If you can be flexible about location, moving to a different state could be the best decision for your finances.

Either way, you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared for whatever the future holds. Check out the best credit cards for college students and get your free credit report to avoid any unwanted surprises before you apply.

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