As more people earn bachelor’s degrees, workers who want an edge in the job market are increasingly investing in expensive graduate degrees. But data released today by PayScale.com reveal dozens of colleges where average mid-career alumni are earning more than $100,000 a year without the additional cost of grad school.
Building on the PayScale data, MONEY identified the 25 most affordable colleges that launch graduates into six-figure careers. While many of them aren’t exactly cheap, consider that an MBA from a top school, for example, typically costs more than $100,000. So investing in a good-value undergraduate education can save big money down the road. (Here are tips on how to find a good value college.)
Remember that these earnings numbers are averages, not predictions or guarantees. What you earn depends on the skills you develop in college, the industry you choose, and your job performance.
|College||PayScale’s average alumni mid-career earnings||MONEY’s estimated average net price of a degree*||Money overall value ranking|
|Missouri University of Science and Technology||$102,000||$91,772||135|
|Virginia Military Institute||$110,000||$93,957||48|
|Massachusetts Maritime Academy||$108,000||$96,870||59|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||$112,000||$111,093||30|
|Cooper Union for The Advancement of Science and Art||$114,000||$113,376||9|
|SUNY – Maritime College||$134,000||$115,746||113|
|University of California – San Diego||$103,000||$125,593||32|
|Colorado School of Mines||$109,000||$132,697||135|
|University of California – Berkeley||$114,000||$133,549||9|
|New Jersey Institute of Technology||$101,000||$154,499||196|
|Case Western Reserve University||$103,000||$160,246||135|
|Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology||$107,000||$160,279||128|
|Stevens Institute of Technology||$120,000||$163,317||48|
|Worcester Polytechnic Institute||$112,000||$163,952||48|
|Washington and Lee University||$120,000||$164,396||24|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$124,000||$166,855||3|
*Net cost of a degree is MONEY’s estimate of the total cost of a degree for a freshman starting in the fall of 2015. The calculation consists of: the total estimated 2015-16 cost of attendance (in-state tuition, fees, room, board, books, transportation, etc.) minus the average amount of college-awarded grants and scholarships. That number is then multiplied by an inflation factor and the average number of semesters it typically takes students at that college to earn a bachelor’s.
For more advice on choosing college, and to create a customizable list of colleges based on criteria such as size, selectivity, and affordability, visit the new MONEY College Planner.