Colleges That Pay You Back

I’ve always been a huge fan of The Princeton Review and when it released its 4th annual “Colleges That Pay You Back” book, having them join me for the #CollegeCash Twitter chat was a no-brainer – especially since students (and parents) are in the midst of college acceptance decisions.

Lead Author and Editor-in-Chief Robert Franek was kind enough to accept my offer and share his insights from the rankings.

“Only 7% of the nation’s four-year colleges made it into this book,” noted Franek. “These schools were bona fide standouts for the return they deliver on one’s college investment. They offer stellar academics, generous aid awards to students with need and/or merit, and provide all of their undergrads with career services from day one plus a lifetime of alumni connections.”

Read on below to see what else he shared…


Why is the cost of college so important?

Students and parents must understand the real cost of college because too often students and parents shy away from schools with high a sticker price. It’s vital to know that there is a ton of financial aid out there!

We’ve done the homework for you to make sure you’re being a savvy college shopper! Check out our infographic here:

When families ask if college is “worth it” – what do you say?

An overwhelming 99% of students and parents we polled told us YES – College will be worth it!  College grads on average earn 84% more over their lifetime than non-college grads. This means a college degree is the key to unlocking those well-paying jobs.

A bachelor’s degree is worth $2.8M on average over a lifetime.

What does it mean to look at the ROI of college?

The Princeton Review’s ROI rating looks at the real cost of college not just the sticker price. We take into account financial aid, academic rigor, and potential earnings. That allows us to rate 200 exceptional Colleges That Pay You Back.

We give students and parents 7 different rankings to help them define their ROI and goals.

How does a college pay someone back?

Our Colleges That Pay You Back are doing the near impossible – making college affordable for all families. They’re doing this through scholarships and grants – free money! These same schools are preparing their graduates for fulfilling careers.

Our Colleges That Pay You Back guide also looks at the long term impact grads from these schools are making.

Why shouldn’t families worry if the sticker price of college is over $60,000?

Only 1/3 of students will pay full sticker price. 70% of students get financial aid, bringing that cost down for families. Most schools are able to offset that high sticker price with grants and scholarships – money that you don’t have to pay back.

Never scratch a school off your list because of sticker price! Start with a visit to the school’s Net Price calculator.

Why shouldn’t families exclude a college just because of cost?

Colleges are often able to offset sticker price with either need or merit-based aid. Often times merit-based aid can be unlocked by an awesome GPA and SAT or ACT scores.

Check out our site to see how much aid schools on your list are giving out!

What are the biggest misconceptions about financial aid?

Many families think they won’t qualify for aid. A huge mistake! Everyone should apply for aid by filling out the FAFSA!

There is no income cut-off and the aid application is essential not only for need-based aid but for merit-based aid. It’s free and our book Paying for College Without Going Broke can walk you through it.

How do “Colleges That Pay You Back” differ from “Best Value” college rankings?

Colleges That Pay You Back adds to Best Value Colleges by adding post-grad salary data from our friends PayScale – looking at college costs, superb academics, and potential for earnings after school. The perfect trifecta!

We crunch all the data to get you a true value list including student opinion from currently enrolled college students.

Which 3 colleges pay students back the most?

Our top schools are:

#1 Stanford University with grads earning $73k upon graduation!

#2 Princeton University giving students an avg grant of $47k!

#3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology students making a mid-career salary of $147k!

See all our Colleges That Pay You Back here.

What are three things you want to leave us with tonight?

You can unlock financial aid dollars by being an awesome student! In 2016-17 $114B in financial aid was given out!

Schools base many financial aid decisions on your academic record and standardized test scores. Make sure you challenge yourself in high school! Never cross a school off your list because of a high sticker price.

Don’t be bashful about contacting a college’s financial aid office to ask about or appeal a financial aid decision.


Learn more about “Colleges That Pay You Back” here.

In addition to being chief expert on all matters college, from admissions to financial aid, for the Princeton Review, Robert Franek is also the author of “The Best 382 Colleges” (w/ 62 categories of college rankings), and “Colleges That Create Futures.”