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These Colleges Don’t Make The Grade: The Universities That Just Aren’t Worth The Tuition

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A college degree comes with a prize. An excellent college diploma comes with the highest value. Not only that, students spend countless hours studying, perfecting themselves, and achieving extra credits and extra activities, but they also leave college with a massive chain – debt. Ironically, students after graduation start their new life chapter with debt. What makes things even worse is that this happens every year. Every college generation goes through this, and it seems that there is no end.

But, is college worth all that debt? Moreover, did you know that between some colleges, tuition fees are incredibly different? So, Payscale decided to show how much finishing college actually costs. So, the ultimate lists have been created: college tuition costs, returns on investment, and graduation rates – it’s all calculated to provide the final list of the value of every college in the States. So which ones just are not making a passing grade? Read on to explore the ranking of the colleges with the worst returns on investment – always apply wisely!

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35. Florida Memorial University – Miami Gardens, Florida

Return on Investment: -$64,000

According to some, Florida Memorial University is a great college. The classes are small, teachers are helpful, and students have pretty much active campus life. The school is located in Miami Gardens, Florida, and has a total enrollment of 1800 students.

The school is closely associated with the Baptist Church. Also, the college is known for giving back to the community. On top of that, the college offers pre-college programs for students in the area. However, with four-year tuition at $109,000, the investment return is only $64,000m, which is a massive downside of this college.

34. University of South Carolina Aiken — Aiken, South Carolina

Return on Investment: -$66,000

Columbia’s educational quality places it among the top 20% best colleges and universities nationwide. Still, you may think twice when it comes to the University of South Carolina Aiken. It takes the average student five years to graduate from his school, and it will cost about $130,000 to attend school there during that time.

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Starting salary is not something to brag about, while the student loans are high. Overall, students can expect to get a negative return on investment of -$66,000 over the next 20 years.

33. Emmanuel College — Franklin Springs, Georgia

Return on Investment: -$70,600

Emmanuel College is a residential college with a 17-acre beautiful campus in the heart of Boston’s education communities. To study here, you should invest over $27,000 a year.

Emmanuel College is a Christian school. It was founded in 1919 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as the first Catholic college for women in New England. With such a long and rich history, this school should provide more to its student, than only a -$70,600 return on investment.

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32. University of Maine at Machias — Machias, Maine

Return on Investment: -$70,700

“Umm” is like the worst acronym for a school ever. Luckily, when you search for the best college, you don’t care about acronyms, but about the school’s quality, teachers, and extra activities.

UMM is located on the Bold Coast, a unique part of Maine full of vivid scenes and beautiful scenery… that students must pay $124,000 over five years to see. The university is passionate about connecting students with the outdoors, which is fantastic, although the return on a student’s college investment is only -$70,700.

31. University of Montana Western — Dillon, Montana

Return on Investment: -$71,400

The University of Montana Western is located in the middle of two of America’s best national parks: Yellowstone and Glacier. Two things are guaranteed with this college: fantastic scenery and return on investment of only -$71,400.

UMW boasts a 46% graduation rate, which is enough to put these colleges on any list, this school doesn’t pay off too much. Yes, you can spend some great hours outdoor and experience some of the country’s greatest treasures, but it seems that the focus on the environment simply doesn’t pay off in the job sector. That’s why graduates from UMW can expect to get a -$71,400 return on their investment.

30. Ozark Christian College – Joplin, Missouri

Return on Investment: -$76,200

Ozark Christian College was founded in 1985, and ever since then, this college has focused on educating students through the bible. On top of that, this college is dedicated to providing necessary vocational skills for Christian service.

To attend this college, you should invest $78,530. For this investment, the return on investment over 30 years is only $76,200, which is lower than the cost of four-year tuition. This is the main reason why many decide to skip this investment.

29. Campbellsville University — Campbellsville, Kentucky

Return on Investment: -$76,800

Within Kentucky, Campbellsville University is considered a mediocre quality college at a costly price. To study here, you musty invest $143,000. The university colors are maroon and gray, but you should think hard if you want to spend so much money to wear them.

Investing $143,000 to graduate so that you can get in return -$76,800 doesn’t seem fair, right? Plus, you cannot receive a degree in any technical field, which is unusual since CU has invested so many resources into their Technical Education Department.

28. Saint Augustine’s University – Raleigh, North Carolina

Return on Investment: -$77,700

Saint Augustine’s University is part of HBCUs (Historically black colleges and universities). Only 974 students actually go to this college yearly, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to pay big bucks to get in.

Four years of school here will cost you $129,000. Interestingly, due to a small number of students, only 23% of them graduate in 4 years. Those who do graduate are usually stuck with a mountain of debt. They do have their diploma, but they typically don’t see a return for their investment.

27. Stillman College – Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Return on Investment: -$80,400

In 2018, Stillman College opened its door to only 615 students. Some of them came for a private liberal arts school in Alabama due to small class sizes, while others preferred to stay away because they have heard that return on investment on Stillman diploma is not that high.

The total of four-year college tuition at Stillman is less than $100,000. For a four-year investment at Stillman, you should invest exactly $98,700. Only 23% of students actually graduate from Stillman. Interestingly, in the last 20 years, Stillman is significantly losing its popularity due to the low return on investment.

26. Unity College – Unity, Maine

Return on Investment: -$82,100

Being environmentally friendly will still cost you money. And there is no college that’s friendly to someone’s wallet. Unity College promotes sustainability, natural resources, and environmental studies. Sadly, once students are off the college, they simply may not have enough funds to pay back their loans.

The truth is that the 20-year net return on investment is a whopping -$82,100. Compared with a 4-year cost of $151,000, this doesn’t seem promising. Still, 54% of students do graduate. Maybe they are motivated by high tuition?

25. Wilson College – Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Return on Investment: -$86,700

Wilson College is known for its beautiful and 300-acre campus. It’s also known for its high college tuition ($156,000, to be exact), and low return on investment. For 144 years, Wilson College was known to be an all women’s liberal arts school. At least that was the case until 2013.

In 2013, Wilson College accepted the first male students. The graduation rate here is 39%, and no one will ever be happy with a 20-year return on investment of -$86,700. If you think that is bad, wait to see for what comes next.

24. Hilbert College – Hamburg, New York

Return on Investment: -$89,100

This is a private school located in Hamburg, New York. The school was founded in 1957 and earned its name from the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, Mother Collette Hilbert. The college was first opened to train teachers, but today it is a liberal arts college with over 800 students.

For four-year tuition, you should invest around $116,000, which is a significant sum. However, when people see the ROI, they often decide to go to another school. The return on investment over 30 years is only $89,100. Given this fact, this school is not the first choice for many students.

23. Emory & Henry College – Emory, Virginia

Return on Investment: -$91,300

Emory & Henry College in Virginia is often mistaken for Emory University in Georgia, which is said to have a $452,000 return on investment. This, Emory & Henry College based in Virginia, is not that lucky when it comes to Payscale’s calculations.

Emory & Henry College is the oldest private liberal arts school in Southwest Virginia. For four years, students must pay $179,000. For this sum, you would expect to see a higher investment rate, but the truth is that the return on investment is a staggering -$91,300.

22. Brewton-Parker College – Mount Vernon, Georgia

Return on Investment: -$92,200

Brewton-Parker College is a perfect destination for those who prefer to attend a small college in a quiet town. The town’s entire population is not more than 3,000 people, and half of those people are Brewton-Parker students.

People usually expect low fees and high returns in investment when it comes to small-town colleges, but it couldn’t be far from the truth. For a four year, college tuition students must pay $113,000. Moreover, the total net return on investment is approximately -$92,200. Do you think that this is bad? Just take consideration that Brewton-Parker’s meager graduation rate of only 17%.

21. Shaw University – Raleigh, North Carolina

Return on Investment: -$93,600

Shaw University has a rich history, ever since it opened its door in far 1865 as being the first historically black university in the Southern United States. This is the main reason why Swah is named by many as “mother of African-American colleges.” Even mothers love comes with a price.

Shaw University students know that they must pay four-year tuition up to $118,000, and it may not even pay off. The return on an investment after 20 years is about – $93,600. You don’t need a college to know that these numbers are low.

20. Paine College – Augusta, Georgia

Return on Investment: -$94,700

Paine College had a tough years later when it comes to financing. Due to some financial issues, Paine College was near to losing its regional accreditation. As it turns out, the school has more problems than financial ones.

The truth is that for a four-year investment of $97,500, students receive $97,700 return on an investment after 20 years. Also, the graduation rate is extremely low, being 20%. Furthermore, graduates are usually stuck with massive debt, without any chance of paying it off quickly.

19. Rust College – Holly Springs, Mississippi

Return on Investment: -$97,100

Rust College has an acceptance rate of about 43%, and those who are accepted are joining a long tradition. Rust College is one of only ten historically black colleges and universities that is still operating. Rust College was also the second-oldest private school in all of Mississippi.

However, Rust College students are not joining only a long tradition and rich history, but they are becoming a part of enormous debt history. For four-year tuition, Rust College students have to pay $63,400, while their return on investment over 20 years is $97,100. Yet, this is nothing compared to school in Mississippi.

18. Johnson University – Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee

Return on Investment: -$97,900

Johnson University is located only 12 miles east of Knoxville, well placed into the suburbs of Tennessee. In their home town, Johnson University holds the status of a celebrity. However, the rest of the world is not that thrilled with this college.

On average, students must pay around $89,800 for four-year education, while the return on investment is -$97,900. Students usually graduate within 4 to 6 years, at least 56% of them. This means that a considerable number of students are coming out with an expensive diploma and little hope of promptly paying their debt.

17. Cazenovia College – Cazenovia, New York

Return on Investment: -$98,600

Those who want to experience calm student life and looking for a small, liberal arts education with a cozy small-town feel, are heading toward Cazenovia College. On a yearly level, this college accepts only 915 undergraduate students. In reality, this low number of students means that college professors can work with students one-on-one.

Unfortunately, not even well-organized classes can prepare these students for what’s coming next. For almost individual education, you should be ready to pay $184,000, along with toom, board, and other costs. The average return? Around $98,600.

16. St. Andrew’s University – Laurinburg, North Carolina

Return on Investment: -$98,800

Former St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College is now known as St. Andrew’s University. Whoever searches for a small town campus with a picturesque land space, St. Andrew’s University is the place to do. That is if you don’t mind experiencing a low return on the investment.

Did you know that St. Andrew’s University holds an amazing lake running right down the middle. Yes, they have a pond. Still, not even this idyllic surrounding is not enough to prepare students for what’s coming after college life. The $167,000 in four-year college tuition leaves alumni with about a $98,800 return on investment over 20 years. That’s not a pretty picture, right?

15. Benedict College – Columbia, South Carolina

Return on Investment: -$105,600

Benedict College is located in a large city, and its a home to the pretty sizable student population. On a yearly level, around at least 2,000 students run to Benedict College for a college diploma. Once upon a time, Benedict College was a teachers’ college.

However, nowadays, this famous institution only gets terrible grades when it comes to its students’ success. The graduation rate is around 22%, while four-year tuition is about $124,000. When it comes to ROI, an average is about -$105,600 return on investment over 20 years.

14. Morris College – Sumter, South Carolina

Return on Investment: -$106,800

Morris College was founded in far 1908. Ever since, it has held the famous motto “Intrare Libris, Dispartire Servire,” or, in English, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve.” The truth is that undergraduates at the South Carolina HBCU enter to learn, but it seems that the Morris College educations don’t serve them right.

To spend four years at the popular Morris College, undergraduates must pay around $92,200 in college tuition. After 20 years, that investment has not paid off for many. According to Payscale, the 20-year return on investment is -$106,800. Nothing much to cheer about, right?

13. Montserrat College of Art – Beverly, Massachusetts

Return on Investment: -$107,400

Montserrat College of Art is the perfect place for those who want to conquer the world by using art. Every year, Montserrat College of Art opens its doors to around 400 students with amazing art skills. Moreover, the school enables them to specialize in visual arts.

To enter this school, students must pay $107,400, and only 56% of students graduate within 4 to 6 years. As expected, the return on investment is an incredible $107,400. May seemed like a lot, but it’s not a really good deal compared to the initial investment.

12. Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Return on Investment: -$113,400

Fayetteville State University is a historically black public school located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. This popular college was founded in 1867 and is part of the University of North Carolina school system. Every year around 6,000 students enroll, and they are usually not too happy with their decision.

Fayetteville State University is known for its nursing program, Master’s in Criminal Justice program, and the best online school in North Carolina. Furthermore, the school is known for its liberal art programs and offers degrees in 43 areas. However, with four-year tuition at $113,400, the return on investment over 30 years is only $82,600.

11. Columbia International University – Columbia, South Carolina

Return on Investment: -$115,700

Columbia International University is known as one of the best schools in the country. Still, this prestigious school cut this list, because how much students invest in is not enough for them to live securely after graduation.

Columbia International University is a private Christian college founded in 1923, not a famous ivy league Columbia University in New York. Still, students are paying as if they were studying in NY. For four years’ worth of tuition, students can expect to pay an astonishing $133,00, while the investment can be around $115,700.

10. Martin Luther College – New Ulm, Minnesota

Return on Investment: -$123,200

Students who are passionate about sport and want to test their athletic skills while studying are always heading toward Martin Luther College. Around one-third of all students participate in sport.

Still, this sports dedication doesn’t mean that Martin Luther College is has been able to stay away from Payscale’s measures. For $93,300 paid over four years of schooling, Martin Luther students usually see a -$123,200 return on investment 20 years later.

9. Claflin University – Orangeburg, South Carolina

Return on Investment: -$133,900

Claflin University is one of the oldest university’s in the States. This is a historically black university that got famous for rewarding two of the first black women with a degree, Alice Jackson Moorer and Annie Thorne.

Ever since the college is on a mission to prepare students for life success in the post-graduate world. However, over the years, Claflin University has not held up that reputation. Almost 56% of students graduate after spending $128,000 in college tuition costs. After 20 years, graduates have about a -$133,900 return on investment.

8. Wheelock College – Boston, Massachusetts

Return on Investment: -$140,700

Originally Miss Wheelock’s Kindergarten Training School, Wheelock College was founded by Miss Lucy Wheelock. Recently they have merged with Boston University’s School of Education, and the school was renamed to Wheelock College.

The school is focused on all levels of education studies, and you may expect that this type of school might have better financial options for its students. However, to explore all levels of education, you must pay Wheelock $201,000 for four-year studies. Shockingly, the return rate is $140,700 return on investment 20 years later.

7. Voorhees College – Denmark, South Carolina

Return on Investment: -$153,400

Voorhees College is located in the small town of Denmark, located in the middle of South Carolina. Voorhees College has only 600 students and based on their testimonials, and they loved their education time there.

Sadly for this school, those reviews are not enough to celebrate the given school a passing grade. Around 26% of students do graduate from Voorhees within 4-6 years. They must pay $97,000 in college tuition, while the average 20-year return on investment for Voorhees College students is about -$153,400. Now, let’s see the top five colleges on this list.

6. Talladega College – Talladega, Alabama

Return on Investment: -$156,900

Talladega College has one of the most famous marching bands in the States. The Talladega College Tornado Marching Band, or the Great Tornado, is mostly known for its hard competition in the bands’ national battles. They are so good that they have even performed at the presidential inauguration parade in 2017.

However, a great band is not the only thing that this school is known about. Students are no happy about school return on an investment after 20 years, which is $156,900. Financing for a four-year study is $88,200.

5. Lindsey Wilson College – Columbia, Kentucky

Return on Investment: -$160,800

Lindsey Wilson College is a home for more athletic students. The school offers a wide range of various sports and championships. Lindsey Wilson College is also home to many trophies, and the majority of their families are now professional athletics.

The school has a graduation rate of 34%, and for college tuition, students must pay $152,000. In the ned, they can expect a $160,800 return on investment.

4. Maine College of Art – Portland, Maine

Return on Investment: -$163,600

Maine College of Art is the place to go if you want to go through art education in New England. This school is also popularly named MECA, as it has become a mecca for students wishing to study studio art and fine art.

The school may promise to educate artists for life, but it doesn’t prepare them for a monetarily successful future. Students must pay $184,000 intuition to expect a return on investment of about -$163,600. When this is put into simple math, it means that they lose about 10% of their investment every year.

3. Miles College – Fairfield, Alabama

Return on Investment: -$164,600

If you or someone close to you thinks about Miles College, you might take a more in-depth look. Miles College is a historically black liberal arts college located in Alabama. The most shocking thing about this college is its low graduation rate of only 17%.

To cut into this 17%, you must pay an astonishing $90,200 in college tuition and other costs. The 20 year ROI here? You can expect to get $164,600.

2. Springfield College – Springfield, Massachusetts

Return on Investment: -$114,000

Springfield College is a private school founded in 1885 and located in Springfield, Massachusetts. This college is mostly known for its athletic programs, basketball mostly.

Springfield College provides a good, quality education at an overall net price lower than other nationwide colleges. However, many still avoid enrolling here because of its low return on investment. A four-year program at Springfield College can cost $174,700, but the ROI over 30 years is only $114,000. Does it sound fair?

1. Mississippi Valley State University – Itta Bena, Mississippi

Return on Investment: -$174,800

Mississippi Valley State University is best known for its successful football team or equally successful marching band. Over the years, these famous schools have produced a significant amount of professional athletes. Some of them even moved on to be in the professional football hall of fame.

Sadly, Mississippi Valley State University had to be on this list. Since the school is on the top of the list, it must be good, right? For four-year tuition, one must pay $75,700 and see a return on investment of about -$174,800.

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