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Robert Trigaux

In job paycheck vs. cost of degree, University of Florida grads are big winners, says Smart Money



gatoruflogo.jpgWake up and good morning. Gators may fixate on their sports teams but the University of Florida has a much better achievement to crow about. UF graduates overall earn more money than most universities and colleges -- given the price tag of attending the school. In fact, the University of Florida ranked No. 2, second only to engineering-focused Georgia Tech, in producing grads who got the biggest salary bang for the university buck.

So says a new Smart Money magazine analysis. The magazine looked at the pay numbers of graduates after three years and then after 15 years at 50 public and private universities. The magazine developed a Payback Score to create a return on investment based on what graduates of each university earned versus what they paid (assuming full fare) at their individual universities.

At UF, for example, starting tuition and fees for the Class of 2009 for four years was $73,476. A UF grad after three years had a median salary of $46,200 and after 15 years a median salary of $80,800. Smart Money then averaged these pay figures then expressed them as a percentage of the sticker price of tuition and fees. That's the Payback Score.

As in previous years, the Smart Money rankings are dominated by public universities. The message? In general, public university grads may not make the salaries of the graduates of some of the most elite Ivy League schools, but they are not far behind. On the other hand, UF grads do not pay the sky-high prices of Ivy League schools. That's why UF ranks higher than Princeton University, top ranked of the Ivy schools, which came in at only No. 18. Harvard ranked 24th. Based on the criteria of paycheck, some public universities deliver a far better wage return on the dollar investment in education.

Here are the top 5 in Payback Scores:

1. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

2. University of Florida

3. University of Texas, Austin

4. University of Georgia

5. University of Illinois

Read Smart Money's story here and click on the link for a PDF of the top 50 ranked schools. UF was the only Florida university listed.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 6:46am]


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