People – students and their parents – often ask questions like “is online MBA worth it” or “is a master degree worth it.” What they are really asking is probably whether investing in the course will fetch the returns they expect. This of course is a personal perspective depending upon current socio-economic status. While almost everyone expects financial returns in terms of high salary or profit there are those who may be looking for fame and recognition or even job satisfaction. Then there are those who are looking for all of the above.
If you have just cleared your 10th (high school) or 12th and are asking yourself “is a masters in computer science worth it” or if you are an undergraduate wondering whether you should do a NEET PG in 2021, or whether you should simply learn everything through free online tutorials you might want to understand why a college degree is important no matter its cost.
No matter what you are looking for though – the question remains –
How do you compute the ROI of your college degree – or any other course for that matter?Tweet
Before we answer that question a word on the true value of education vis-à-vis your actual investment. Apart from earnings – or apart from the average college cost which includes your course fees and other expenses like stationery, travel, hostel expenses and so on, you should also take into account the effort and time you invest in your studies. Renting textbooks can help save a dollar or two.
The investment and expected returns from higher education is incumbent upon socio-economic status, aptitude, and availability.Tweet
A lot depends upon your perspective. For instance, a student paying his way through college would consider college an expense or investment in his future while a student whose family is paying may consider not going to college a loss in terms of missing out on an important phase of life. So even if you can calculate the ROI of your college degree, you should consider where you are and where you want to be.
The ROI or value of your degree is only an estimate relative to several factorsTweet
With that background, here’s how you may be able to put a dollar value to your degree.
Computing the Cost
To calculate the ROI – incidentally ROI is Return on Investment – you would calculate percentage return on cost. The logical first step therefore would be to estimate the cost of college education. This has been on an upward curve for the past two decades if not more and increased more than 100% over the last three decades in the USA.
The average cost of attending college for 4 years in the US in the year 2018-19 was approximately 24,869 USD in a public college. In a private for profit college the cost estimate is USD 33,219 and the same for non-profit colleges was USD 51,874.
Taking this as a starting point (you can safely use any Currency Converter – just be aware that there may be a slight difference in the conversion rate) you should add any other capital investments – such as a laptop or other equipment – and overheads like traveling and out of pocket expenses, as well as living expenses if you plan to stay on campus or as a PG (Paying Guest). Deduct any student grants or scholarships you have won from the total cost.
If you have taken a student loan you should factor in the interest on that loan. A simple way to do this is to compute the loan EMI for the same duration as your college degree. Or you might consider the total amount you have to repay as your college cost but this would not include living expenses and other overheads so bear that in mind.
Having estimated what your college degree is going to cost you, it’s time to determine what it can fetch you.Tweet
A good place to start computing the possible returns from your degree is to find out the average salary for the profession or career you are planning to take up.
Returns after Graduation
If you haven’t decided upon a career yet take a look at the options available to you.
Even if you are still undecided, you could choose a couple or three options and find out the median salary for those professions. Some sites even offer computation based on college degree. Bear in mind though that these are estimates and the actual figures could be radically different depending upon the economic status and evolving trends. Moreover, choosing a career based on cost estimates is not the best advice.
Getting an idea about your returns vis-à-vis your college costs bodes well for financial planning – but you should not base your career choice on it.Tweet
As we said the figures computed above are but estimates and the facts can be radically different. As far as calculation goes, once you have your estimate cost and estimate earnings it is a simple matter of deducting cost from earnings and computing the percentage of benefit over costs.
The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranks Indian universities based on five broad parameters namely Teaching, Learning & Resources (TLR), Research and Professional Practice (RP), Graduation Outcomes (GO), Outreach and Inclusivity (OI), and Peer Perception. You might want to look up the best college at their site or watch out for our list.
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