Colleges That Aren't Worth the Price of Admission

By Jake Schroeder
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Applying for and attending college is a big decision — one that can affect you for the rest of your life. If you have decided to attend college, you want to make sure that you get what you pay for. College is no good if an employee from a fast-food chain makes as much as you do with a degree. Here is a list of colleges that — statistically speaking — are a waste of time and money.

Stillman College in Alabama

Stillman College attracts students who are looking for a private liberal arts school with few students and small classroom sizes. While these features can be beneficial in many cases, this is not one of them. Even though the population hovers over 600 students, the results are not impressive.

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Photo Courtesy: Stillman College/Facebook

The four-year school costs around $98,700 for a degree. Only about 23 percent of Stillman's students graduate. Those that do have been found to make a total return on investment of -$80,400 over a 20-year period on average, making it a bad college choice.

Wilson College in Pennsylvania

Wilson College spent over a century as an all-women's liberal arts college before finally allowing men to apply. With such high tuition — $156,000 for four years — attendees and parents footing the bill expect great results. Unfortunately, expecting too much from this college is a bad idea.

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Photo Courtesy: Wilson College/Twitter

Wilson College only has a 39 percent graduation rate. Alumni can only expect to see an average return on investment of -$86,700 over a 20 year period. Shouldn't a six-figure degree result in at least a six-figure ROI?

Johnson University in Tennessee

If you are looking for a college that will keep you in debt for most of your life, Johnson University in Tennessee just might be right for you. It is a private Christian university that just does not measure up.

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Photo Courtesy: Johnson University/Facebook

While this school's graduation rate of 56 percent is higher than some of the schools we have and will soon mention, graduates will probably still regret it. Four years at this university costs about $89,800. The ROI for alumni after 20 years averages -$97,900. Surely a private school can do better than that.


Cazenovia College in New York

Cazenovia College is a small liberal arts college in New York that has only about 900 students. With such a small campus population, the college claims it can work one-on-one with students, which you’d expect to produce good results.

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Photo Courtesy: Cazenovia College/Facebook

This small college costs up to almost $200,000 for a four-year degree including room and board and other incurred costs. Sadly, the ROI after 20 years is about -$98,600. It's safe to say that students and parents alike expected far greater results.

Martin Luther College in Minnesota

Martin Luther College is well known for its involvement in sports. In fact, almost two-thirds of the students are involved in some type of sports and one-third in varsity sports, and these students come from all over the country. With so many out-of-state students, it is probably a good thing that the college requires all students to stay on campus.

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Photo Courtesy: Martin Luther College/Facebook

Between the cost of education and room and board, a four-year degree runs about $93,300. Unfortunately, that high price only brings about financial difficulty, as the ROI after 20 years is -$123,200.

St. Andrew's University in North Carolina

North Carolina is a beautiful state that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. Attending college there … maybe not. St. Andrew's University — previously the St. Andrews Presbyterian College — shares in that beauty with its pond and lake, but that splendor comes at a hefty price.

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The cost of tuition for four years is around $167,000. Of course, it takes a long time for students to repay their loans. With a return on investment of -$98,800, graduates may find themselves wishing they would have attended a less picturesque college.


Wheelock College in Massachusetts

Wheelock College in Boston actually started as a kindergarten training course for teachers, which was founded by Lucy Wheelock. Over the years, mergers and other moves changed it into what it is today: a college that provides training for teachers of all levels.

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With such a great past, you’d think that Wheelock College produces some well-paid teachers. That is not true. A four-year education at Wheelock costs about $201,000, and the return on that investment after 20 years is an average of -$140,700.

Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky

Kentucky may have some winning racehorses and even professional sports players, but not everyone from Kentucky comes out on top. Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky is proof of this. While this college has produced some pro athletes, it seems that if you do not make it big, you probably won’t make it at all.

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Photo Courtesy: Lindsey Wilson College/Facebook

The college's graduation rate is a mere 34 percent, and a four-year degree costs students about $152,000. These graduates often find themselves with a return on investment of -$160,800.

Emory & Henry College in Virginia

Emory & Henry College is a private liberal arts school located in Southwest Virginia. It has a 54 percent graduation rate, which is better than other colleges listed here but nowhere near the 91 percent graduation rate of Emory University.

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A four-year degree runs students about $180,000, which is still too expensive even considering that the return on investment after 20 years is $91,300. Perhaps Emory & Henry College should study and take some notes from Emory University.


Paine College in Georgia

Paine College is a private Methodist college in Augusta, Georgia that has faced a lot of financial turmoil. There is no sign of that trouble ending anytime soon, either. With the school in its own financial mess, it should be no surprise that its graduates are, too.

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A four-year degree from Paine College runs students $97,500, and there is a disheartening graduation rate of only 20 percent. That means 80 percent step away with debt and no education. The 20 percent that do graduate have a return on investment of -$94,700.

Benedict College in South Carolina

Benedict College was once a teacher's training college, but it eventually opened up to other vocations. It is located in the fairly large city of Columbia, South Carolina and has approximately 2,250 students. Unfortunately, only about 22 percent of the college's students graduate.

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Photo Courtesy: Benedict College/Twitter

These few hundred graduates work their way through a four-year degree that costs them $124,000. After putting in that effort, these students probably hoped to earn a good salary. Imagine the disappointment they must feel when after 20 years, their return on investment is -$105,600.

Montserrat College of Art in Massachusetts

Not just anyone can get into Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. In fact, the school only accepts about 400 students gifted in the arts each year, with about 56 percent of those students passing.

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Students pay $169,000 in tuition over their four- or six-year degrees only to find themselves with a return on their investment of -$107,400 after 20 years. This is pretty shocking considering Massachusetts's public school system ranks so well..


Mississippi Valley State University

Mississippi Valley State University has many strengths. The school's marching band is a sight to behold. The football team does more than win — it produces quite a few players who go pro. Unfortunately, the strengths stop there.

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Graduates of Mississippi Valley pay a total of about $75,700 for a four-year degree. While tuition itself is nowhere near the highest on this list, the trouble comes from the fact that the return on investment averages to -$174,800. That is a very big financial loss for students.

Miles College in Alabama

Miles College has similar results to those of Mississippi Valley State University. Sadly, Miles College has a graduation rate of only 17 percent. Perhaps this low graduation rate is because many students do not feel much hope for their future if they continue at Miles College.

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Students pay a total of about $90,200 for tuition and other costs over their four years at the college. This investment sadly only results in an ROI of about -$164,000 over 20 years. It's no wonder there is so much student loan debt in America right now.

Maine College of Art

Here is another art school that just does not make the grade. Maine College of Art in Portland seems like the perfect place for students hoping to study studio or fine arts, especially if they love seafood, lighthouses, and beautiful views.

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Photo Courtesy: Maine College of Art/Twitter

While Maine is very supportive of the arts as a whole, perhaps students would be better off moving to the state after going through a better program. Maine College of Art charges about $184,000 for a four-year degree. After 20 years, these students have an ROI of -$163,600 after 20 years.


Brewton-Parker College in Georgia

Mount Vernon, Georgia is a small town with less than 3,000 residents. A little more than a third of those people are students at Brewton-Parker College. The graduation rate of the college is only 17 percent, which is definitely low.

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Brewton-Parker students pay approximately $113,000 for four years of school. Any college whose tuition is six figures should have graduates that make a really good salary. Unfortunately, that is not the case. After 20 years, graduates see an ROI of about -$92,000.

Saint Augustine's University in North Carolina

Another North Carolina college that is not worth the price of admission is Saint Augustine's University. This college is one of America's historically black colleges and universities, although the school does open its doors to people of other races. It is located in Raleigh, North Carolina and has less than 1,000 students.

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The college's graduation rate is pretty low at only 23 percent. A four-year education at Saint Augustine's runs $129,000. That is a pretty hefty price, especially considering that graduates have an average ROI of -$77,700 after 20 years.

Rust College in Mississippi

Rust College has a lot to brag about. It was actually the second private school in the entire state of Mississippi, and it is one of only a handful of historically black colleges still open. The school accepts a little over 40 percent of applicants, and those accepted are proud of that accomplishment.

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Sadly, not all that glitters is gold. While Rust College has a lower tuition rate than many schools at a little over $60,000 for four years, the 20-year ROI is -$97,100, meaning graduates have trouble repaying their loans.


Unity College in Maine

Although any college degree should pay for itself and more over time, graduates in fields like environmental studies seem like they should find even more success since their knowledge benefits everyone. Anyone who spends four years learning how to improve the environment should get paid well to put that education to work.

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Sadly, this is not the case — at least not with Unity College. This school in Unity, Maine educates students in sustainability and environmental studies. However, this $151,000 education does not provide a decent, sustainable income, as it has an ROI of -$82,100 after 20 years.

Shaw University in North Carolina

Shaw University was the first historically black university in the south. It’s been located in Raleigh, North Carolina since opening in 1865, and most of its students are proud to be there. They likely think differently after they graduate.

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Four years of schooling at Shaw cost students around $118,000. Generally speaking, students who fight their way through to graduation can expect to see an average of -$93,600 after graduation. Numbers like these make a person wonder if college is worth it.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Sadly, we see another art school on the list, which is a shame. We need more beauty in this world, not less. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is associated with but separate from the Art Institute of Chicago. It was also once named "Most Influential Art School."

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Photo Courtesy: Terry Robinson/Flickr

Unfortunately, that influence does not seem to affect graduates' wallets. A four-year degree costs a whopping $230,000. The 20-year ROI is approximately -$25,000. This is a little better than some other colleges, so perhaps there is still some hope.


Beloit College in Wisconsin

Nestled in Beloit, Wisconsin is Beloit College. This private liberal arts school has been open since 1846 and has an average of 1,400 students. Although Beloit is on this list, not everything about the college is bad — especially not their 82 percent graduation rate.

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A four-year degree runs about $215,000 and provides a $25,700 ROI over 20 years. Although that is a positive number, it’s still very low considering the price and time invested in study

Talladega College in Alabama

Talladega, Alabama is known for two very special things: the Talladega Speedway and the Talladega College Tornado marching band. This talented team of musicians gives the town a lot to be proud of. The college itself — not so much.

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On the positive side, about 43 percent of the students graduate. However, those graduates walk away with almost $90,000 in debt and see a 20-year return on investment of -$156,900. The band members may have talent, but the Talladega College students do not seem to be prepared for the debt they amass.

Claflin University in South Carolina

Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina also has a history to be proud of. The university was the first in the country to give degrees to African-American women in the U.S., with Alice Jackson Moorer and Annie Thortne Holmes graduating in 1884. With a 56 percent graduation rate, the school can still be proud of its work — to some degree.

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It seems as though the university’s dedication to truly preparing its students for the real world has declined. A four-year college degree through Claflin costs approximately $128,000, but the 20-year return on investment is -$133,900.


Voorhees College in South Carolina

In the small town of Denmark, South Carolina is another historically black college by the name of Voorhees. It is a well-loved and respected college of only 600 students, 26 percent of which graduate — with a massive amount of debt.

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A four- to six-year degree costs students nearly $100,000. Over a 20-year time span, graduates tend to see a return on investment of -$153,000. Working hard for a degree isn’t so fulfilling when you do not make a large enough salary to pay off your loans afterward.

The University of Montevallo in Alabama

The University of Montevallo was founded as Alabama's state college for women in 1896 but became a coed college in 1956. It is located in Montevallo and is surrounded by nature's beauty. Hopefully, that beauty will be enough to ease your anxiety as your debt amasses.

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A four-year degree runs students up to about $86,000 in debt with a 20-year ROI of -$77,000. However, that is for the school's in-state students. Out-of-state students rack up about $123,000 in debt and receive an average ROI of -$110,000 after 20 years.

Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania

Saint Francis University is located in Loretta, PA. It is a Roman Catholic college that provides degree programs in business, healthcare, science and the humanities. Considering these programs, one would expect graduates to do pretty well financially. Sadly, that is not the case.

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A four-year degree from SFU costs graduates about $177,000. This debt tends to bring a 20-year ROI of -$26,000. However, the median salary is said to double after about 10 years, so with some strategy and extra hours, there is a chance of paying off your loans before you retire.


Jackson State University in Mississippi

Almost 7,000 students attend Jackson State University. It’s another historically black college and university that has been named a research-designated facility. The primary degree programs offered include education, economics, technology, and healthcare. It would appear, however, that the college needs to research how to set its students up for success.

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A four-year degree costs approximately $116,000. With a starting salary of less than $40,000 per year, however, Jackson State students just might find themselves still paying student loans when their own children are going off to college.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke looks like an amazing place to be. It is a historic American Indian liberal arts campus that has a wide range of degree programs, including American Indian studies, music education, theater, science, psychology, nursing, special education and more. Even better, it has a beautiful campus with a lake to relax beside.

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Unfortunately, the goodness ends there. A four-year degree runs students around $105,000 with a 20-year ROI of -$25,000. The median starting salary of its students is only $37,900.

The College of New Rochelle in New York

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The College of New Rochelle is a private Catholic university with a little over 3,000 students. The college has some beautiful architecture, including a gorgeous building called "The Castle." New Rochelle began in the early 1900s as a school for women and has only recently begun accepting men into programs.

New Rochelle's School of Arts and Sciences charges $187,000 tuition for a four-year degree. This is rather steep, as the early salary of graduates is under $37,000. These numbers result in a 20-year ROI of -$20,000.