The ROI of Higher Education

Saving for College
The ROI of Higher Education

Committing to higher education, whether through a student loan or directly from your savings to cover tuition, room, and board, and books, represents a significant financial decision. The goal is for your investment to pay off through enhanced earning potential. Regardless of your funding source, it's vital to consider the potential return on investment (ROI) your education offers.


Quite a few critical numbers go into calculating the potential ROI of your education. Among the most important numbers are the following:

  • The cost of your education.
  • The earning power your education promises.
  • Job opportunities within your chosen field.
  • Learning opportunities and person value derived.

Approaching higher education should involve creating a well-defined plan. Higher education comes with costs, so this plan may require making sacrifices to achieve your goals. This dual perspective can help ensure your college experience is personally enriching and financially rewarding.


The cost of education varies widely across universities and programs. Furthermore, the duration of your studies, dictated by your chosen profession impacts the time taken to recover costs and to start generating positive returns (through your income). For instance, careers like dentistry require more extended study periods than teaching or nursing.

Then comes the Ivy League versus non-Ivy League and the private vs. state school debate. An Ivy League or private school education can open unique opportunities. Still, the cost of attending those schools is generally greater than in-state public university costs. Still, you can achieve an impressive ROI without the associated debt of these elite private institutions. Exploring high-quality alternatives to Ivy League or equivalent schools may be more economical if you depend on student loans.


Financial aid programs make higher education possible for many people. These programs, which include scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities, and loans, can substantially reduce the out-of-pocket expenses for a college degree. Scholarships and grants are incredibly beneficial, as they don't need to be repaid, effectively lowering the cost of education. Work-study programs offer students part-time employment, allowing them to earn money while studying. Even though you must repay loans, they can make higher education more accessible. However, when calculating ROI, it's essential to consider the repayment terms of any loans, as these can offset potential earnings. Financial aid can enhance the ROI by reducing the initial cost of education, making the degree a more valuable investment.


Education is an investment that often yields substantial returns. However, it's important to acknowledge it as an investment and fully leverage the opportunities it provides. The value you derive from your education depends significantly on how you engage with the learning process. While a degree can open many doors, it's crucial to pursue fields with robust job markets and fair wages to maximize the benefits of your investment.

Specific fields, like healthcare and nursing, typically offer better returns on investment due to higher demand and plentiful advancement opportunities. Conversely, fields like art history might provide lower returns due to fewer job openings and limited progression opportunities.


Once upon a time, it was much easier to calculate the ROI of your education. Today, other factors such as the economy, the total time in school, the cost of education, and life choices can substantially impact your education, how long it takes, and what, if any, return you may see for your efforts. If you're worried about your ROI, there are choices you can make that will make the costs of attending college and achieving that education lower, thus improving your overall ROI. That includes working full-time and paying as you go rather than taking out loans, attending two-year colleges and then transferring to four-year universities to cut costs, and majoring in high-demand fields that represent outstanding earning potential, like nursing or information technology.


Here's the good news about education as an investment. Nearly 46 percent of all college graduates recoup the cost of their educational investments within five years, and 64 percent do so within 10. However, that depends upon choosing majors in fields where there is demand and attending colleges with cost-effective choices within that major. More often than not, the ROI of your education is well worth the investment.

Information presented in the Financial Advice website is provided for educational purposes only and is not related to Ameris Bank's actual products or services. Ameris Bank makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness or specific suitability of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. Ameris Bank recommends you consult a professional for any specific guidance you are seeking.