These 10 Colleges Are the Biggest Waste of Tuition Money in the U.S.

Now that we know which colleges are the best to invest your time in — how about the worst?

The U.S. national student debt is now over $1 trillion, and many students are taking out loans for an education that might not benefit them in the long-run. Over 90% of students enrolled in two-year programs at for-profit institutions graduate with debt, as opposed to community colleges, where only 38% need to take out loans.

Out of over 1,300 institutions, the schools on this list had the lowest 20-year net returns in the country — making the strong argument that it might have been better not to attend them in the first place. And some majors had it even worse: those who majored in the arts, English, humanities, education and social work at the following schools had negative-value degrees:


Image Credit: The Atlantic

Without further ado, here are the 10 least valuable colleges, arranged by 20-year net value:

1. Shaw University (-$156,000)

Cost of a degree (2013): $116,300

Its value over 20 years: $-156,000

Annual return on investment: <-11.9%

Graduation rate: 26%

2. Fayetteville State ($-131,000 for out of state)

Cost of a degree (2013): $112,500

Its value over 20 years: $-131,000

Annual return on investment: <-11.9%

Graduation rate: 31%

3. Bluefield College ($-123,000)

Cost of a degree (2013): $162,700

Its value over 20 years: $-123,000

Annual return on investment: -6.7%

Graduation rate: 34%

4. Savannah State University ($-115,000 for out of state)

Cost of a degree (2013): $124,200

Its value over 20 years: $-115,000

Annual return on investment: -11.9%

Graduation rate: 32%

5. University of North Carolina at Asheville ($-94,000 for out of state)

Cost of a degree (2013): $129,900

Its value over 20 years: $-94,000

Annual return on investment: -6.1%

Graduation rate: 55%

6. Ashland University ($-91,600)

Cost of a degree (2013): $173,600

Its value over 20 years: $-91,600

Annual return on investment: -3.5%

Graduation rate: 61%

7. University of Montevallo ($-91,400 for out of state)

Cost of a degree (2013): $117,400

Its value over 20 years: $-91,400

Annual return on investment: -7.1%

Graduation rate: 47%

8. Maryland Institute College of Art ($-90,900)

Cost of a degree (2013): $205,200

Its value over 20 years: $-90,900

Annual return on investment: -2.7%

Graduation rate: 71%

9. Goshen College ($-87,500)

Cost of a degree (2013): $153,200

Its value over 20 years: $-87,500

Annual return on investment: -4.0%

Graduation rate: 71%

10. Meredith College ($-81,100)

Cost of a degree (2013): $154,800

Its value over 20 years: $-81,100

Annual return on investment: -3.5%

Graduation rate: 59%

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Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

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