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100 community colleges with the best ROI

  • 100 community colleges with the best ROI

    Getting a good return on investment is important to many, especially in an economic downturn. Education is no exception—in fact, given rampant student loan debt, it may be more important for that particular investment.

    Stacker compiled a list of the community colleges with the best return on investment using a study by Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah, and Martin Van Der Werf at Georgetown University. Colleges that primarily offer associate degrees were considered. Colleges are ranked by the highest 40-year ROI, with ties broken by 10-year ROI. Net present value, which compares current costs to future value, was used to calculate rankings in the 2019 study.

    Schools that offer training in STEM, the trades, and health care are common throughout this list because of the high demand for those skills, but there are also more obscure programs, including viticulture and exotic animal training.

    Though some of these schools offer bachelor’s and even master’s or doctorate programs, we’ve focused on shorter programs of the type usually found at community colleges, including associate’s degrees and certificates. Many of the schools that offer those programs are set up with transfer agreements with four-year schools to simplify the transition process for their students.

    A number of schools that focus on hands-on training have constructed on-campus centers so that students have an experience that mirrors real life. Others are part of hospital and health-care systems and use their facilities. Some serve the local communities, while others offer simulation scenarios. Virtually all offer some sort of financial aid, but increasingly, colleges are offering free rides based not only on academic or athletic performance, but also financial need. Dual enrollment, for high school students who want to finish up their diploma work while earning college credit, is also increasingly available.

    Read on to learn about the schools in the country where students get the strongest value for dollars spent on education.

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  • #100. Bucks County Community College

    - 40-year net present value: $901,000
    - 10-year net present value: $178,000
    - Graduation rate: 18%
    - Median debt: $6,000

    Beyond associate’s degrees and certificates, this college offers free workforce development courses, including metalwork, industrial maintenance, and QuickBooks to county residents. Other community resources include an Artmobile and online camps for kids of all ages.

  • #99. Eastwick College-Ramsey

    - 40-year net present value: $902,000
    - 10-year net present value: $143,000
    - Graduation rate: 62%
    - Median debt: $14,570

    Health specialties are a major focus at this school, which also offers courses in areas ranging from culinary to funeral science. Program options range from certificates to bachelor’s degrees, and courses are available at four different campuses across New Jersey.

  • #98. Arapahoe Community College

    - 40-year net present value: $904,000
    - 10-year net present value: $190,000
    - Graduation rate: 22%
    - Median debt: $4,750

    Nursing and EMT programs are popular at this community college, along with liberal arts. The school is ranked as one of the more-liberal colleges in the country. Associate degrees and certificates are available for a broad array of majors. Transferring from Arapahoe is easy, since the school has agreements with more than 30 four-year programs.

  • #97. Ohlone College

    - 40-year net present value: $905,000
    - 10-year net present value: $176,000
    - Graduation rate: 39%
    - Median debt: $7,000

    Ohlone College has a diverse student body, coming from 37 different countries and exploring 189 degree and certificate programs. Ohlone has a Transfer Admission Guarantee program with a number of the state’s universities and 92.1% of students are accepted to transfer to the CSU (California State University) system. The freshman retention rate at the college is 85%, because students see value in their first year of college education.

  • #96. Alexandria Technical & Community College

    - 40-year net present value: $907,000
    - 10-year net present value: $185,000
    - Graduation rate: 59%
    - Median debt: $8,251

    Beyond technical programs including arts & design, transportation & mechanics, and law enforcement, this college offers transfer paths for four-year programs. Almost all—98%—have success in job placement after completing their program.

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  • #95. Las Positas College

    - 40-year net present value: $907,000
    - 10-year net present value: $186,000
    - Graduation rate: 39%
    - Median debt: $5,250

    Diversity, safety, and student life are among the selling points at Las Positas College, located on the east side of the Bay Area. Beyond liberal arts courses, other programs include viticulture and winery technology, kinesiology, and fire service technology. CARES Act $500 grants are available to help students with school expenses related to the pandemic.

  • #94. San Diego Miramar College

    - 40-year net present value: $908,000
    - 10-year net present value: $171,000
    - Graduation rate: 40%
    - Median debt: $3,500

    Students planning a career in health and fitness might want to look at San Diego Miramar College: The school has one of the top exercise science programs in the area, according to Universities.com. Public safety is another area where they have several study options.

  • #93. College of the Canyons

    - 40-year net present value: $910,000
    - 10-year net present value: $171,000
    - Graduation rate: 36%
    - Median debt: $5,268

    Both traditional and technical programs are available to students at College of the Canyons. Popular majors include social science research, accounting, and emergency medical technician. Full-time, first-time students attend for free for two years.

  • #92. Moorpark College

    - 40-year net present value: $911,000
    - 10-year net present value: $187,000
    - Graduation rate: 38%
    - Median debt: $5,500

    Two unique offerings at Moorpark College in Southern California include an Exotic Animal Training and Management program and a performing arts center for the school’s dance, music, and theatre students. The school also offers educational and legal services specific to DREAMers from undocumented and mixed-status families.

  • #91. Triangle Tech Inc-Dubois

    - 40-year net present value: $912,000
    - 10-year net present value: $166,000
    - Graduation rate: 80%
    - Median debt: $12,000

    Training for in-demand careers is available to Triangle Tech students via 16-month programs. Electrician and welding programs are the most popular. Distance learning is available for these typically hands-on types of programs, with lab work to be completed when in-person study is possible. The school gets high marks for value from students and parents.

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