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Report values return on investment for BU degree at $406,000

PayScale released its 2014 College Return on Investment Report, which depicts the differences in ROI between state schools and public schools. GRAPHIC BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
PayScale released its 2014 College Return on Investment Report, which depicts the differences in ROI between state schools and public schools. GRAPHIC BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University was ranked the 13th-best private university in Massachusetts for its return on investment Wednesday, according to an organization called PayScale that rates colleges and universities on their total cost and average alumni earnings.

PayScale’s 2014 College Return on Investment Report found the average BU alum yields a 20-year net ROI of $406,000, and an annual ROI of 5.4 percent.

Though several students said investing in a bachelor’s degree from BU was a good investment, some said the university placed too high a premium on receiving an education.

“I have a lot of family members that went through Boston University and came out with very successful jobs,” said Richard Keating, a College of Arts and Sciences junior. “They were able to pay their student debt off in no time because of their Boston University degree.”

Keating said he felt he would ultimately see a strong return on his investment in his education.

“I did an internship and it just seems that everywhere I go people know Boston University, and to everyone in Massachusetts, Boston University is looked highly upon,” he said. “It’ll be worth it in the end.”

Tom Meeus, a junior in CAS, said though receiving scholarships to BU made attending a responsible investment, the average student was disadvantage by the cost of tuition.

“You can’t go into school and come out with $200,000 in debt,” he said. “If you’re coming out of a bachelor’s with that much debt, you’re behind for the rest of your life, and you’re trying to play catch up. Especially in today’s job market where just a bachelor’s doesn’t even get you that far.”

PayScale, one of the largest aggregators of data on salaries of college graduates in the country, roots its rankings in the 20-year returns typical graduates who hold only a bachelor’s degree receive on their investments in higher education.

“If you’re applying to college there are many things for you to consider, both qualitative and quantitative factors,” said Katie Bardaro, PayScale’s lead economist. “But one of the most important quantitative factors is what is your potential income.”

Badaro said PayScale primarily allows graduates to understand their true value in the labor market by comparing their salaries, which they volunteer to the website along with information about their educational background and employer, to those in similar positions.

“You can’t just go up to someone and say how much do you make to try to understand if what you’re paid is paid fairly,” Badaro said.

In 2009, the organization began compiling the information they had accrued to assemble the rankings, which currently places BU as the 75th-most valuable private higher-education institution in the nation.

“The information we’re trying to put out there with the ROI [return on investment] is not to say the only thing you should consider when you’re going to college is what your paycheck is going to look like,” Badaro said. “In no way do we think that’s true. It’s just a piece of what the overall decision is.”

Malini Chinta, a sophomore in the seven-year Liberal Arts/Medical Education program, said the benefits of participating in the program justified its cost.

“The education I’ve been receiving here has been up to my standards, at least, and I’m definitely being challenged,” she said. “This school is, for what I want to do, one of the best places to reap the benefits of that investment.”

Chinta said BU’s reputation helped secure her current position as a research assistant.

Lauren Nuclo, a sophomore in the School of Management, said the reputation of an individual’s alma mater played a minimal role in their ability to find a job.

“On the premium on getting a degree from an elite school, there’s not that much of a difference between an elite school and a regular school if you take into account other factors, like your ambition,” she said. “The degree only gets you so far. You can’t just rely on the name. You also have to apply yourself and really go after what you want.”

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