10 Worst College Rip-Offs in America

Updated August 5, 2020
posted on 06-07-2019

Like almost everything in America, the cost of earning a college degree increases every year. This has led many prospective college students to question the overall value of attending college and earning a degree, compared to entering the workforce right out of high school. 

In a society where experience is just as important as a degree to most hiring parties, you can’t blame students for questioning the long-term value of higher education. Many degrees can cost upwards of $50,000, and when coupled with a low-paying career after graduation, the return on investment (ROI) can be downright dreadful.


The schools on the list were chosen based upon overall tuition amounts, median starting salary, median mid-career salary and the annual and 30-year net return on investment (ROI). 

Annual Tuition & Fees data was collected from the most current information provided by US News and World Report.

Median Starting Salary and Mid-Career Salary data sets are provided by PayScale.com, which collected survey information from bachelor degree graduates who work full-time in the United States. 

The Net ROI is calculated by:

(Weighted Cost for a 2010 Graduate - Earnings Differential) x Overall 2010 Graduation Rate = Net Return on Investment.


Weighted Cost for a 2010 Graduate represents the overall amount it costs to earn a college degree from the institution -- including tuition, room, board, books and fees.

Earnings Differential represents the annual gain in median pay from a college graduate over a high school graduate.

Overall 2010 Graduation Rate represents the percentage of the graduation class that finishes their degree.

The Annual ROI represents the percentage of expected ROI received each year after graduation.

[For a more detailed explanation of the methodology, click here.]

Ranked in order of least to worst 30-Year Net and Annual ROI, here are 10 of the biggest college rip-offs in America.