What’s A College Degree Worth?
January 17, 2023
As many high school seniors are submitting their college applications and awaiting their offers of admission and financial aid this spring, New York Institute of Technology has become the first university in the nation to provide a highly personalized and visual “return on investment” (ROI) calculator on its website. This tool, called Return on College, or ROC, is designed to help prospective and current students fully understand the financial costs and potential long-term payoff of various undergraduate degrees, complete with related career pathways.
“New York Tech is proud to be the first higher education institution in the nation to implement this robust ROI tool. Our prospective and current students, along with their families, will benefit from the transparency into the cost of and return on a New York Tech degree that this tool provides,” says Karen Vahey, Ed.D., dean of admissions and financial aid, who spearheaded the initiative.
Partnering with Vantage Point Consulting, which designed and developed ROC through a U.S. Department of Education Small Business Innovation Research grant, New York Tech volunteered to serve as a beta site in 2021 to provide input into the tool design before unveiling it in late 2022. Vahey and Jeffrey Carpenter, co-founder and executive vice president at Vantage Point, collaborated as classmates in the University of Pennsylvania doctoral program, from which they each received their Doctorate in Education in 2020.
Pictured from left: Karen Vahey and Jeffrey Carpenter
“I was conducting my doctoral research on the changing public perceptions of college value when the Department of Education released its grant application for developing a tool to help families and students better understand the full cost and the return on investment of their college degree,” recalls Carpenter. “My company, Vantage Point, was thrilled to win the $1.1 million grant to fund our early research, design, and development of ROC. Dean Vahey and New York Tech leaned forward as the first university to help provide input into the ROC design and to make it available to their current and prospective students. We look forward to learning from ROC users and continuing to improve ROC based on their feedback this year and then making ROC more broadly available next year.”
New York Tech supported the initial design and rollout of ROC and provided design input throughout its development. Basically, for each of the dozens of undergraduate degree programs offered at New York Tech (and listed on nyit.edu), a prospective student can link directly into the ROC tool and see a visual representation of the net price of a degree, the careers that align with it, the change in salary potential relative to any current degree level and/or career, and the anticipated student loan costs relative to the potential for improved earning power.
ROC combines multiple trusted data sources—including the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Department of Education—as well as additional labor market insights and data to help students and families better understand the return on their investment for a degree from New York Tech.
Vahey expects that use of this new, innovative tool will gain significant traction late this winter and into the spring as prospective students and their families receive their financial aid offers. “Bottom line, ROC helps to break down complex data points such as college outcomes and costs, opportunity cost and expected future wages by degree program, as well as the cost of student loans, to paint a clear picture of anticipated costs and earning potential by degree program,” she says.
Learn how the ROC tool works.