1. Rust College - ROI: -$63,400
Rust College is historically known as one of the ten black colleges and universities founded before 1868. The quaint college situated in Mississippi has an acceptance rate of 43 percent and it is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Although it has historic roots, it might not be worth the inexpensive tuition.
Rust College's yearly tuition is just $9,900 per year, but after 20 years, the net return on investment is -97,100. While it is much more affordable than most universities, it is still not worth the investment when you look at the long-term numbers.
2. The Baptist College of Florida - ROI: -$68,500
For those who are looking for a school where everyone knows your name, the Baptists College of Florida is the place for you. Located on the Alabama-Florida border, the school is known for its Baptist minister training program as well as its music program.
Despite the impressive student to teacher ratio, getting a degree from BCF has its setbacks. Students have to pay $68,500 in tuition, and then they see -$63,400 return on their investment. They are just barely breaking even with their investment.
3. Mississippi Valley State University - ROI: -$75,700
Although the student body is only 2,000 people, Mississippi Valley State University is well known for its competitive football team and notable marching band. MVSU has turned out many pro-football players throughout the years, but not everyone gets a multi-million dollar contract after graduation.
Despite the affordable tuition of just $75,700 for four years, MVSU has a staggering -$174,800 return on investment for students. Unless you are a professional athlete, those numbers might scare you.
4. Talladega College - ROI: -$88,200
Talladega College is most famous for its incredible marching band. Known as The Great Tornado, these students compete on a national level against other universities, and they have even performed for the presidential inauguration parade.
Students are drawn in because of this reputation, but Talledega College would play a sad song for the return on investment. After paying $88,200 for tuition, students see an average -$156,900 ROI. For the 43 percent who graduate from TC, this is not what they want to find out.
5. Johnson University - ROI: -$89,800
Although Johnson University is the main focus of the small Tennessee town where it is situated, the private university is not getting much love from its students once they realize the money they are losing. Despite the inexpensive tuition compare to other schools, the ROI is not what graduates want to see.
Compared to most private universities, Johnson's annual tuition is rather low at $16,920 per year. However, the 56 percent who graduate are losing $97,900 on their investment over a 20-year period. That is an expensive diploma that won't be worth that much once the students leave their college town bubble.
6. Miles College - ROI: -$90,200
Miles College is a historically black college in Alabama founded in 1898. The school is known for its STEM program, but according to Payscale, it is not worth the reasonable tuition. Despite its incredible marching band and significant athletics, the school has its downfalls financially.
Firstly, Miles College has a shockingly low graduation rate of 17 percent. Second, for those who do make it to graduation, they have to pay $90,200 for tuition, and then they see a -$164,600 return on investment. No student wants to see these startling numbers when looking for schools.
7. Morris College - ROI: -$92,200
The historically black college has boasted the slogan "Enter to Learn; Depart to Serve" since its founding in 1908. However, students aren't leaving with the tools to serve after attending Morris College in South Carolina. According to Payscale, students are losing more money than they are paying.
Over four years, Morris College students pay $92,200, which is reasonable compared to most places, although the ROI after 20-years is -$106,800. Therefore when you look at the numbers, it just doesn't add up.
8. Martin Luther College - ROI: -$93,300
Martin Luther College in Minnesota is known for the large student participation in varsity sports. Another two-thirds of the student body participates in intermural sports, so it's safe to say that this is an active campus. However, it is not in the best shape, according to Payscale's evaluation.
After paying $93,300 for tuition, which we have to admit is reasonable, MLC students see an average -$123,200 return on their investment. The school requires its students to live on campus for all four years, so they are also paying expensive housing fees throughout school, yet another drawback.
9. Voorhees College - ROI: -$97,000
With a small student body of only 600 students, Vorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina gets great reviews from students. The historically black college feels like a small town on campus where everyone knows each other, but those positive qualities don't translate financially.
The relatively low percentage of students who graduate from Vorhees College pay around $97,000 for four years of tuition, but they see a -$153,400 return on their large investment. That expensive diploma doesn't seem like it is worth the price tag after all.
10. Paine College - ROI: -$97,500
This year, Pain College in Augusta, Georgia, has struggled financially to stay open throughout the global pandemic. The private Methodist school has had to turn to the city for extra funding, but the school isn't the only one struggling to stay afloat financially.
According to Payscale, students who pay the $97,500 tuition get a -$94,700 return on their investment. The graduation rate for Paine college is alarmingly low, at 20 percent. The school is in trouble of not surviving through the end of next year, so they have to figure out a plan to get more funding.
11. Stillman College - ROI: -$98,700
With only 615 students, Stillman College in Alabama is known for its small class sizes and private liberal arts school vibes. While some people want those things in their college experience, others are unwilling to pay the high price that does not come with a large return on investment.
After paying $98,700 for four years of school, people expect to earn that money back. However, if you look past the small graduation rate of just 21 percent, you will see that those who graduate from Stillman have a negative return on investment of -$80,400.
12. University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma - ROI: -$99,700
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma or USAO was originally the Oklahoma College for Women. In 1912, a judge sentenced "an incorrigible young woman" to serve time there because he thought it was a reform institution. The funny history transcended into a campus full of life.
Although the school's academics are top ranking in Oklahoma, it does not have a good ROI for alumni. For those who pay the $99,700 price tag, they see a dismal -$65,500 return on their large investment.
13. Florida Memorial University - ROI: -$109,000
As a historically black university established in 1879, Florida Memorial University was founded with the American Baptist Home Mission Society's support. The school has changed locations in Florida, but it now has a home in Miami Gardens.
The school has a positive reputation because of the community work they do in Miami Gardens. The school offers pre-college courses to teenagers, but those who graduate from the school have to shell out $109,000 for tuition. On top of that, they see a -$64,000 return on their investment.
14. The University of Montana Western - ROI: -$109,000
The University of Montana Western is for people who love outdoor activities. UMW has many activities to offer for those who also want a small school atmosphere, from skiing and snowmobiling to hiking and tubing. However, the small school is deceptive to those who aren't looking at the numbers.
Although many people want smaller class sizes and better access to their professors, they shouldn't have to lose so much of their $109,000 investment. The average return on investment of UMW is -$71,400 for the 46 percent of students who graduate.
15. Emmanuel College - ROI: -$112,000
Emmanuel College is a religiously-affiliated school that recently celebrated its 100th birthday in 2019. Although the school offers a wide variety of programs and degrees, the school is not worth the large tuition.
The 28 percent who finish their studies at Emmanuel College shell out $112,000 for tuition, and then they see a -$70,600 return on investment. For the large price tag, people want to see more money coming back to them in the long run.
16. Brewton-Parker College - ROI: -$113,000
While some people look for big party schools, others want a smaller university that feels like home. Students at Brewton-Parker College in Georgia get that intimate experience when they attend the southern school. The student population is only 2,400, so it is like a small town.
Despite the small-town feel, BPC students are not getting their money's worth in the long run. After paying $113,000 for tuition over four years, 20 years later, their degrees are worth -$92,200. On top of that, the graduation rate is only 17 percent because students are most likely transferring elsewhere.
17. Shaw University - ROI: -$118,000
As the first historically black university in the south, Shaw University made a name for itself when it opened its doors in 1865. Despite being the "mother of African-American colleges," an education from Shaw will cost students a pretty penny.
Over four years, Shaw University students pay $118,000 for tuition, which is about average. However, the return on investment after 20 years is -$93,600. You don't need an expensive math degree to understand that those numbers are not worth the price over time.
18. Benedict College - ROI: -$124,000
Columbia, South Carolina, is a bustling city with multiple universities, including Benedict College. The HBCU school hosts over 2,000 students, and it was once a teacher's college. Today they offer a wide variety of programs, but their graduates do not succeed like those of surrounding schools.
Benedict College has a 22 percent graduation rate, but graduates are losing most of their $124,000 investment for those who finish school. Payscale calculated the ROI for Benedict was -$105,600 over 20 years. With schools like USC right down the street, why waste money that won't be earned back 20 years down the line?
19. University of Maine at Machias - ROI: -$124,000
As the town that saw the first naval battle of the American Revolution, Machias, Maine, is a historical place that is also home to a branch of the University of Maine. However, unlike the main campus, the Machias branch does not show great numbers in the financial aspect.
The graduation rate is only 29 percent, and those who do graduate have to pay $124,000 over four years. Although it has been ranked as one of the public comprehensive campuses for higher education, graduates still see a -$70,700 return on their investment.
20. Claflin University - ROI: -$128,000
Claflin University has received praise throughout its longstanding history. The historically black university awarded diplomas to Alice Jackson Moorer and Annie Thorne, who were the first two African-American women to graduate from college in the US. Despite these milestones, the school has not held up to that reputation in recent years.
Although the school has a high graduation rate of 56 percent, Claflin students have to shell out $128,000 for tuition. On top of that, they see a -$133,900 return on investment. With a significant history like Claflin, it is hard to say why the numbers are not adding up to their reputation.
21. Saint Augustine’s University - ROI: -$129,000
Situated in beautiful Raleigh, North Carolina, Saint Augustine's University is a small school with less than 1,000 undergrad students. The southern school is part of the HBCU (historically black colleges and universities), and a diploma from the Raleigh-based university comes with a hefty price tag.
SAU's official motto translates to "The truth will set your free," but we don't think they wanted this truth to get out. Students pay around $129,000 for four years, but only 23% actually graduate in that period. Those who attend school for longer than four years acquire piles of debt, and the return on investment is -$77,700.
22. University of South Carolina Aiken - ROI: -$130,000
When you see the University of South Carolina, you might wonder why it is on this list, but we are specifically talking about the Aiken campus. Although it is the fastest-growing out of the eight schools that compromise USC, it also has one of the worst ROIs.
Students who attend USC Aiken shell out $130,000 for tuition. Despite its solid reputation, the financial benefits do not add up for this campus. After working to pay off student loans, alumni see an average -$66,000 return on their investment.
23. Columbia International University - ROI: -$133,000
Like Benedict University, Columbia International University is also located in Columbia, South Carolina. The schools share more than location because they both have a poor ROI when it comes to student investment over time. It must be something about this city, that is bad luck.
The private Christian university costs students $133,000 for four years, followed by -$115,700 return on their investment. Despite its similar name to the ivy league school in New York, the diplomas do not get students as far once they graduate.
24. University of Montevallo - ROI: -$143,000
As the only liberal arts school in Alabama, the University of Montevallo is among the top-ranking public institutions that also offer master's programs. The gorgeous campus boasts beautiful pre-Civil War buildings, and there are many student activities, but it doesn't add up financially.
Behind the curtain of tradition and top-ranking academics for Alabama, the University of Montevallo holds many financial drawbacks. An out of state student has to pay $143,000 for four years of tuition, and then they see a -$64,100 return on that investment.
25. Campbellsville University - ROI: -$143,000
The Baptist-affiliate university in Kentucky attracts students for its proximity to the nearby state park and beautiful lakes. Campbellsville University offers a multitude of programs with its School of Education, School of Music, and School of Art. It also has a satellite center in the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.
Despite all those attractive qualities, the school has many financial drawbacks, according to Payscale. Students pay around $143,000 for tuition and fees, but they see a -$76,800 return on investment. It's a massive loss that many people do not want to take.
26. Unity College - ROI: -$151,000
The small private liberal arts school, with only 814 students situated in Unity, Maine, may be environmentally friendly, but it is not nice to your wallet. Unity College offers students an education focused on sustainability, environmental studies, and natural resources, but that won't help when they are in debt for years to come.
Unlike other small schools, Unity College has a higher graduation rate of 54 percent, but that's accompanied by $151,000 of tuition. According to Payscale, the 20-year net ROI is -$82,000, and most students don't have all the resources to pay back their massive student loans without acquiring a lot of interest.
27. Lindsey Wilson College - ROI: -$152,000
Lindsey Wilson College has a reputation for its athletics, and the overflowing trophy case can back that up. The Kentucky school is proud of its professional athlete alumni, but not every graduate can expect a pro-athlete career once they get their diplomas.
With about 34 percent of students graduating from LWC, they see a -$160,800 return on their investment of $152,000 for four years of tuition. There are plenty of other incredible universities with accomplished athletic departments that are better on your wallet.
28. Wilson College - ROI: -$156,000
For most of its existence, Wilson College in Pennsylvania was an all-women's liberal arts school until 2013 when it accepted male students for the first time. However, no matter what gender you are, students will still have to pay $156,000 over four years for tuition.
For the 39 percent who graduate from Wilson College, their 20-year return on investment is -$86,700. We don't know about you, but if we pay over one hundred thousand for tuition, we would want that to be worth something over time. Sadly, Wilson isn't even the worst on the list.
29. Davis & Elkins College - ROI: -$160,000
David and Elkins College in rural West Virginia is a Presbyterian Church-affiliated liberal arts school. The town attracts people of all ages because it is host to many Appalachian genre music festivals. The school is attractive to those who want better access to their professors with a 12:1 student to teach ratio.
Although the school is small and far from big cities, it still comes with a $160,000 price tag. According to Payscale, those who complete their studies at this school see a -$66,000 return on investment.
30. St. Andrew’s University - ROI: -$167,000
St. Andrew's University is located in the stunning southern town of Laurinburg, North Carolina. With a lake running through campus and lots of beautiful views, many students are attracted to the quaint university that recently began offering graduate programs, but it comes at a cost.
The tuition for St. Andrew's University is $167,000 for four years; however, alumni are losing $98,800 of their investment once they leave college. Student's diplomas are not as valued once they graduate from SAU, so the four-year investment should go to a better school.
31. Montserrat College of Art - ROI: -$169,000
Montserrat College of Art might look like a good option for those looking for a school that is all about art with the best facilities despite the $169,000 price tag. The competitive New England school is home to only 400 students, but those select few have trouble once they graduate.
Montserrat has a 56 percent graduation rate after four to six years of schooling, but their return on investment is -$107,400. While art is a challenging field to go into, it should be more comfortable when you attend a prestigious school, but this school only leaves students with insurmountable debt.
32. Emory & Henry College - ROI: -$179,000
Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia, shouldn't be confused with Emory University in Georgia because EHC graduates do not get the same education value for their money. After four years and $179,000 in tuition, you would think a degree from this liberal arts school would be worth much more.
As one of the oldest liberal arts schools in Southwest Virginia, the return on investment for EHC after 20 years is -$91,300. Despite these numbers, the school still has a 54 percent graduation rate, but those numbers sting just like their wasp mascot.
33. Cazenovia College - ROI: -$184,000
Right near the large and renowned Syracuse University sits Cazenovia College. With only 917 students, the small liberal arts school is much better for those who want the upstate feel without the massive student body. The school prides itself on small class sizes and personalized learning, but is it worth the cost?
Over the four years of school, students shell out around $184,000 for tuition before the cost of room, board, and books. However, students are losing over half their investment because the 20-year net ROI is -$98,600, according to Payscale.
34. Maine College of Art - ROI: -$184,000
While there are plenty of art school options in the New England area, Maine College of Art draws students in with their fine art and studio program. Despite the school's promise to "educate art students for life," they do not give them the tools to be financially stable long-term.
After shelling out $184,000, Maine College of Art students have plenty of student debt, and it isn't easy to get a job in the art field. The average student will see a -$163,600 return on investment, according to Payscale. Each year, graduates are losing ten percent of their investment.
35. Wheelock College - ROI: -$201,000
Known initially as Miss Wheelock's Kindergarten Training School, Lucy Wheelock founded Wheelock College. However, after a merger with Boston University's School of Education, it was renamed Wheelock College. Despite partnering with a large university, students still see a poor ROI.
First, students spend around $201,000 for tuition, while a teacher's salary is nowhere near that amount annually. Because of this, graduates spend years paying back their student loans, and they see a dismal ROI of -$140,700 over a 20-year period.