AffordableCollegesOnline.org (AC Online) strives to provide valuable content with accurate data. To facilitate this goal, we use the following respected data sources:
Below you’ll find details on our individual ranking list criteria.
For the AC Online Affordable Colleges with High ROI list, we took several factors into account, leveraging our breadth of data source mentioned above:
The top 50 colleges and universities were selected from 875 schools meeting the above criteria. To see the AC Online’s Affordable High ROI schools, click here.
Both exclusive million-dollar ROI lists took several factors into account, using data from our trusted sources and partners. Criteria for each list included the following:
All subject-specific ROI lists took several factors into account. The criteria for the political science list include the following:
To see the subject-specific ROI rankings, please click below:
The High ROI by State lists took a variety of important factors into account, including education and income related data from highly reliable sources. Criteria for each list included the following:
To see state specific rankings, please select your state in the “State” drop down navigation menu.
How is the ROI calculated? (The simple version)
Simply, the ROI is the incremental lifetime earnings of a political science major as a result of earning a college degree minus the cost of the education.
Incremental lifetime earnings is the amount of salary earned by a graduate over a 30 year period over and above the amount earned by the average worker with a high school diploma.
The total cost of education includes tuition and fees, room and board, and supplies and fees. Total cost also factors in time to graduates. For example if the average time to graduation for a college is 4.5 years, then the total cost includes 4.5 years of the expenses.
ROI calculation for demonstration purposes
Incremental Lifetime Earnings (Discounted): $1,000,000
Total Cost of Education: $200,000
Return on Investment: $800,000
How often is the state ROI ranking released?
This information is released on an annual basis.
Can you tell me about Affordable Colleges Online?
College is becoming more expensive and student debt is ballooning. Affordable Colleges Online provides information to help future students and parents find a more affordable college education.
We aim to educate so that potential students are aware of their options for obtaining a degree and, most importantly, for paying for one. What are the most affordable and highest return on investment options – online study, two-year, four-year, public or private colleges? What financial aid options are available and what pitfalls should you avoid? We keep our finger on the pulse of college-related issues, the latest research, how the government is responding, and help you analyze your options.
Can you share the specific details for how ROI is calculated? (For the Finance Geeks)
For more information see the link here. PayScale did a great job documenting the specific details.
The 30 schools on our list had to meet very specific criteria. These three main deciding factors were weighted equally:
In addition to ranking well on these criteria, to even be considered a school must also meet these requirements:
You can see AC Online’s MBA Rankings here.
All colleges, universities, and online programs included in AC Online’s Affordable Colleges Rankings List passed the following criteria:
AC Online ranked the most affordable colleges in each state. Each school had to pass the following criteria:
To isolate the 100 colleges we thought had the best chance to land on the president’s upcoming scorecard, we started with a series of general criteria:
We then dove into more detailed value metrics, giving colleges a score in each respective category. The % weight applied to each category has been included, as well:
The Cheapest Online Colleges list focuses on colleges and universities that hit certain cost and quality standards. For example, some colleges have low tuition and fees, but fail to measure up in the classroom. Or, they have clear academic prowess but cost an arm and a leg. This list aims to find the best of both worlds. Here’s a more detailed look at the criteria:
To see the Cheapest Online Colleges rankings, please click here.