May 12, 2014

Dealing in Dreams

Dealing in Dreams

It just seems absurd, to pay 60 grand a year so that you can read Rousseau. I mean I can read Rousseau right here. Hell, I can hire sometime to read it to me, teach me French, and then read it to me in French for that kind of money. It’s absolutely nuts!

By Kunal Jasty

We’re drilling down on the essential question around the higher ed challenge – namely why does it cost so much, and it is it worth it in the end?

Here are 1500 American colleges and universities plotted by their 4-year sticker price on the x-axis and 30-year net return on investment (based on the median salary of graduates) on the y-axis. All data is taken from Payscale’s annual report on the earnings of college graduates. Look to the top right of the graph for high-price schools with high future salaries, the bottom right for high-priced schools with low future salaries, and the top left for (relatively) affordable schools with high future salaries.


  • Payscale has a great explanation of their methodology on their website.
  • The dataset is by no means perfect, but I believe it is accurate enough for illustrative purposes.
  • We’re not taking into account the net price of colleges (i.e. financial aid and grant aid).
  • Future earnings by no means the only way to judge a college or the “college experience.” It’s hard to put a price on the value of a college education, but I believe the average earnings of graduates is an extremely important data point.
  • Thank you to nsonnad for providing invaluable code examples.

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