Return on investment study finds SJU, CSB among best in state

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December 4, 2019

There’s good news if you attend a private school, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

There’s even better news if you attend Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict, according to that same report.

“A First Try at Return on Investment (ROI): Ranking 4,500 Colleges” attempts to answer an age-old question: Is a college education worth the cost? The answer is a resounding “Yes,” particularly when viewing private four-year nonprofit colleges like SJU and CSB, according to the study.

Using a methodology that includes the cost of education and earnings across a graduate’s lifetime, Saint John’s is ranked first among 23 private four-year colleges in Minnesota in five separate benchmarks – at 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 years after enrollment. The latter category shows SJU graduates with a return on investment, measured in current dollars, of $1,247,000 40 years after enrollment, besting the University of St. Thomas (ranked No. 2 among state private schools) by $105,000.

Saint Ben’s is ranked ninth at 10 years, seventh at 15 years, fifth at 20 years, sixth at 30 years and fifth at 40 years among state private colleges. The latter category shows CSB graduates with a return on investment of $1,065,000.

What is particularly notable is that CSB and SJU continue to rise in the rankings throughout graduates’ working lives. National figures show SJU ranked No. 154 among all classifications of schools and CSB No. 384 out of 4,529 schools for ROI 40 years after enrollment (four-year and two-year public and private colleges that are nonprofit and for-profit).

Of the 10 colleges with the best long-term (40-year) net economic gain, all are four-year institutions, and eight are private nonprofit schools, the study found. In fact, “degrees from private nonprofit colleges typically have a higher return on investment when measured in the long term,” the study reported.

Ten years after enrollment, the median net present value for all colleges is $107,000. Measured at the 40-year level, that number rises to $723,000 for all colleges. In the long-term, the net economic gain for attending a private nonprofit college is $838,000.

Although “colleges that predominantly offer certificates or associate degrees have the highest return in investment 10 years after enrollment, returns on investment from bachelor’s degrees eventually overtake returns from most two-year credentials,” the study concluded.

The report uses expanded College Scorecard data to calculate the net present value of a credential from the 4,529 schools.