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Is College Worth it? New Georgetown Study Says Yes and Seattle U Ranks High

November 21, 2019


Data from a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce called “The First Try at ROI” shows that a Seattle University education does pay off.

Is a college education a good investment? That question has been asked repeatedly of late, however, in this age of Gen Z students and their Gen X parents—looking over their shoulders at potential debt—the question is more ubiquitous than ever.

Using data from a recent groundbreaking report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce called “The First Try at ROI,” it’s clear that a Seattle University education does pay off.


  • After accounting for the cost of completing an undergraduate degree, the years invested in finishing the degree instead of working full-time, and the interest costs of student loans, a typical Seattle U undergraduate will benefit financially over their career by well more than $1 million. In other words, the difference in earnings between a Seattle U graduate and the median earnings of all workers, whether they went to college or not, is great enough to cover the costs and the period of reduced earning while being a student and still add an additional $1.1 million in pure financial benefit over a 40-year period.
  • This puts Seattle U in the top 7 percent of the more than 4,500 public and private schools the Georgetown report gathered data on and represents almost $275,000 above the average 40-year net present value for all the private institutions measured.
  • Ten years after starting college, the typical Seattle U graduate student has covered all the costs associated with paying for college, lost earnings while in school and interest on borrowing—and is already ahead by more than $50,000.

Given the difference in tuition between public and private schools you might assume that attending a lower-cost public institution would favor its long-term return on investment. Not necessarily so, according to the report.

“Degrees from private nonprofit colleges typically have a higher return on investment when measured in the long term,” noted Georgetown in a news release summarizing its findings. “Even though students, on average, take out more than twice as much in loans to attend private colleges, a degree from a private nonprofit college is worth $8,000 more annually 10 years after enrollment. Over the course of 40 years, the average graduate of a private college has a net economic gain of $838,000, even after paying off higher amounts of debt, compared to $765,000 for a graduate of a public college.”

The report uses expanded College Scorecard data to calculate the net present value of a credential from the colleges, including traditional two-year and four-year public and private schools, as well as for-profit colleges and training academies. Georgetown also developed an online table of the 4,500 colleges that allows users to sort data on tuition, median student debt and median earnings for each institution

More information about the Georgetown study, published Nov. 14, 2019, can be found here.