Only 150 of 3500 U.S. Colleges Are Worth the Investment: Former Secretary of Education

“We have about 21 million people in higher education, and about half the people who start four year colleges don’t finish,” Bennett tells The Daily Ticker. “Those who do finish, who graduated in 2011 – half were either unemployed or radically underemployed and in debt.”

The U.S. is home to some of the greatest colleges and universities in the world. But with the student debt load at more than $1 trillion and youth unemployment elevated, when assessing the value of a college education, that’s only one part of the story.

Former Secretary of Education William Bennett, author of Is College Worth It, sat down with The Daily Ticker on the sidelines of the Milken Institute’s 2013 Global Conference to talk about whether college is worth it.


That average student loan balance for a 25-year-old is $20,326, according to the Federal Reserve of New York. Student debt is second largest source of U.S. household debt, after only mortgages.

Bennett assessed the “return on investment” for the 3500 colleges and universities in the country. He found that returns were positive for only 150 institutions. The top 10 schools ranked by Bennett as having the best “ROI” are below:

Harvey Mudd College
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Stanford University
Princeton University
Harvard University
Dartmouth College
Duke University
University of Pennsylvania
University of Notre Dame


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