The ROI From College

College Tuition and Your “Business Friendly” Major

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Dec 15, 2012    •    740 Views

Should a state subsidized college charge less tuition for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses?

For individuals and for society, we could say that college is all about ROI–a return on an investment. Pay to go, sacrifice what you might have earned when you are in school, but then graduate, work, and make more money during a lifetime than you might have without your degree. Similarly, through more economic growth, society also benefits from an investment in human capital.

But the ROI is not the same for all students. Even studies that differ on the ROI of college agree that STEM related careers generate more lifetime income.

In addition, Florida tells us that students who take STEM related college courses are more likely to have a job when they graduate than a history, a philosophy or a Spanish major (not to mention anthropology, English and Chinese). Consequently Florida is deciding whether they will create tuition “tiers” with “business friendly” majors paying less.

So, pondering and perhaps moving beyond the money definition of ROI for individuals and the “spillover” to society, do you believe that providers of publicly subsidized education should favor “business friendly” majors?

Sources and Resources: This podcast from WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, touching topics like how the quality of Florida universities would be affected and the definition of “business friendly,” provides an interesting introduction to the tuition debate. Here, the NY Times also considers the issues while these reports, here and here, and this econlife post, display the disagreement over the ROI from education.

From Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, “The College Payoff”

Georgetown Study on "The College Payoff"


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