College is a huge investment. Students and their families spend several years and many thousands of dollars in order to reap educational, social and, of course, financial benefits down the line. And as tuition costs and student debt levels rise, the value of the degree and the ability to earn money after graduation are becoming increasingly important to prospective students.
Sure, great classes, vibrant campus life and maybe even the occasional keg party can make for a memorable college experience, but today’s students and their parents also demand that schools lead graduates to better work and higher earnings. Location is important, also, and many students have decided that staying close to home can be a smart financial move in addition to being simpler logistically. Luckily, there are colleges that offer good value for the tuition dollar in every state.
Slideshow: The Best College for the Money in Every State
Career site PayScale recently crunched the data to figure out which school in each of the 50 states offered the best return on investment. Their calculations compare the future earnings of graduates over 20 years, adjusted for the cost of tuition and financial aid, to the median pay for a high-school graduate. While many flagship state schools appear on the list, some private colleges take the top spot in their state thanks to generous aid packages.
Nationwide, Massachusetts Institute of Technology had the highest ROI, with the average grad expecting to earn more than $1.1 million over 20 years.
Click through to see which schools offer the best return in each state.