Last month, the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce released, “A First Try at ROI,” a thorough report that aims to evaluate the Return on Investment (ROI) for a student attending any particular college in the U.S. The scope of the project is quite impressive: taking the government’s College Scorecard data, the Georgetown team calculated the 10-year and 40-year Net Present Value for more than 4,500 institutions granting Bachelor’s and Associate’s degrees, and certificates.
I took a look at how New Hampshire’s institutions stacked up against the national trends, and I was surprised by what the data show.
The study finds nationally that community colleges and many certificate programs have the highest short-term ROI, measured here as 10-year Net Present Value.* In New Hampshire, this finding definitely holds.
The three Associate’s degree institutions (colored grey) included in the Georgetown study have a 10-year NPV that hovers around $160K. By contrast, the overwhelming majority of the 13 Bachelor’s degree institutions (colored blue) come nowhere close to that figure. Two Bachelor’s institutions do come close but do not meet it. And interestingly, two Bachelor’s institutions have negative 10-year NPV values.
Where things get interesting is when we look at the 40-year Net Present Value figures for New Hampshire institutions.
The Georgetown study finds that nationally the institutions with the highest long-term net economic gains are Bachelor’s degree institutions.
But in New Hampshire, this holds only for about half of the 13 Bachelor’s degree institutions. While seven of the 13 have 40-Year NPVs greater than that of the lowest Associate’s degree institution ($844K), six of the 13 Bachelor’s degree institutions have 40-year NPVs that are lower than the lowest Associate’s granting institution’s NPV.
And a slightly different view of the same data….
This finding raises more questions than it answers. Is the unique New Hampshire ecology of businesses part of the explanation? What kinds of jobs are Associate’s degree graduates working at to earn salaries that are on par with those of Bachelor’s degree graduates? And, are we as a state doing enough to support our community colleges?