Elite American Universities are a bargain in the actual sense

Elite American Universities are a bargain in the actual sense

The only measure of a college’s success must not be projected earnings. However, they are extremely important for students who rely on loans to pay for their degrees. The payoff is big enough that borrowing generally makes sense. However, it doesn’t really make sense at way too many well-regarded US colleges and universities.

Than those of any other top US university, graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology make more money and this is not a fact of surprise. Those who receive federal student aid earn a median income of $124,213 a year 10 years after starting college. MIT is among the least expensive American universities for those receiving federal aid. This may be a matter of surprise as it costs an average of just $5,084 a year along with the living costs, supplies and books included.

However, on the other hand, New York University is the highest in the Top 25 of the current US News & World Report rankings (there are 28 universities because four are tied for 25th place). It has the highest average cost for federal aid recipients and the third-lowest median income for former students. This data is known from the annual college scorecard released by the US Department of Education.

What does the data reveal?

NYU has lots of visual and performing arts majors while MIT is a college for engineers. Graduates of Penn and Princeton earn more than graduates of Yale and Harvard. This is because Princeton has a relatively large engineering school and Penn has an undergraduate business school. These cost statistics reflect the differences in resources and priorities among institutions. They also reveal the dysfunctional nature of the higher education system in the US.

At $27.4 billion, MIT has the country’s sixth-largest university endowment. The data is according to Bloomberg’s college endowment tracker. Harvard, the University of Texas system, Yale, Princeton and Stanford are behind MIT in descending order. At $3.5 billion, NYU is in the 35th place. However, it is not a question of resources.

The University of Pennsylvania and the University of Notre Dame are numbers 7 and 8 on the endowment list. They have nearly identical endowments. However, the average costs for students receiving federal aid are much different. At Penn, it is considered a high priority to keep costs manageable for students from lower- and middle-income backgrounds when compared to Notre Dame.

These days, a clear majority of US college students are represented by students who receive federal aid. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the survey data collected for the National Center for Education Statistics of the Department of Education show that 59.1 per cent of all undergraduates have received federal grants, loans or both. The share has been rising to 59.6 per cent at four-year public colleges and universities. However, the share has been rising to 64.2 per cent at four-year private nonprofit ones.

Increase in students receiving federal grants

From 2017-2018 to 2019-2020, the percentage of students at all colleges who receive federal grants has risen from 42.6 per cent to 51.8 per cent according to more recent administrative data. At elite private universities, these percentages appear to be lower. It is indicated by the NCES data that 20 per cent of MIT undergraduates received Pell Grants in 2020-2021 compared with 18 per cent at NYU, 19 per cent at Stanford and 22 per cent at Princeton.

Need-blind admissions are offered at these schools. However, the composition of the application pool and high admissions standards indicated that most of those who get in are from affluent backgrounds. At elite schools, you can also be reasonably affluent and get some financial aid. With 93 per cent of the money coming from the university, about 60 per cent of MIT undergraduates do acquire financial aid. An average of $19,599 a year is paid by these financial aid recipients which is a lot higher than the $5,084 paid by the smaller group that receives federal aid. However, it is still quite low relative to how much students of MIT can expect to earn.

The richest private institutions are now a bargain for students who do qualify for federal aid compared with most top public universities, even for in-state students. However, among states, there is a fair amount of variation. Students have imposed the highest costs by Pennsylvania and Virginia and the lowest costs by Florida and Indiana.

California – Public universities still a bargain

California is another country having many excellent public universities. The country stands out for offering a pretty good deal for in-state students of all incomes. They are also well integrated with the community college system of the state. They also pave an even lower-cost pathway to a University of California degree. Public universities remain a relative bargain for in-state students who are too affluent to qualify for any or much financial aid in many other states. However, they must be no longer especially affordable for anybody else.

Meanwhile, for the students from low- and middle-income families who get in, the big endowment private universities are a spectacular bargain. However, the number of students involved is quite small.  MIT, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and Harvard account for only about 0.3 per cent in aggregate of US four-year college undergraduate enrollment. They also have only 15 per cent as many UG students as the University of California system. Most postsecondary education in the US happens at Public institutions. Also, so many of the top universities cost close to $20,000 a year even for in-state students who receive federal aid. This is not an encouraging development.

Dept trap for students with less paid jobs

For students who receive federal aid, the most expensive four-year schools include a lot of specialized art, music, design and theatre schools. Such graduates do not make much money. Some of these are excellent schools. However, they can be debt traps for students who do not have rich parents. Students with learning disabilities can enrol in Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. Also, graduates of Gnomon, a school of “visual FX, games and animation” in Hollywood, that offers certificate programs, individual courses as well as a four-year bachelor of fine arts earn about as much as Harvard.

Even more, is earned by students of Santa Clara and Fairfield Universities. Also, out-earning Harvard grads are products of another Massachusetts STEM school, Worcester Polytechnic Institute founded four years after MIT. They are also products of the Los Angeles campus of West Coast University, which is a specialized healthcare school.

Above all, undergraduates who earn the most are from STEM and specialized healthcare schools that dominate the list of four-year institutions. This is not a matter of surprise. However, three less than world-famous health sciences schools along with the science and engineering-focused Harvey Mudd which is one of California’s Claremont colleges top MIT and is definitely a matter to be surprised with.


The only measure of a college’s success must not be projected earnings. However, they are extremely important for students who rely on loans to pay for their degrees. The payoff is big enough that borrowing generally makes sense. However, it doesn’t really make sense at way too many well-regarded US colleges and universities.

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