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15 States With the Best Colleges for Return on Investment

What do you pay attention to when shopping around for a college? You might be impressed with the campus or interested in the various student clubs and activities. But that’s not enough of a reason to pick a certain college. One of the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing where to study is how your earning potential compares with the cost of your education.

Roughly 7 in 10 college seniors who attended a public or nonprofit school graduated with an average student loan debt of $30,100, so finding a good investment is important. A fancy degree won’t mean much if you can barely pay the bills.

Payscale created a map highlighting some of the best schools in each state based on their net 20-year return on investment. The list contains a mixture of state and private schools, as well as one federally funded school. Let’s take a closer look at the 15 states with the best colleges for return on investment.

15. New Hampshire

New Hampshire scenery

New Hampshire scenery New Hampshire | Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Dartmouth College

  • 20-year net return on investment: $650,000
  • Total four-year cost: $257,000
  • Graduation rate: 95%
  • Typical years to graduate: 4 years
  • Average loan amount: $23,200

Dartmouth College alumni earn an average salary of $60,800 during the early part of their careers, and they make about $119,000 mid-career. Although the total four-year cost of attendance is quite hefty at $257,000, students who come from families earning less than $100,000 a year are eligible for tuition remission. Some notable Dartmouth alumni include Shonda Rhimes, Daniel Webster, and Nelson Rockefeller.