Report ranks campus as best public school for return on student investment

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Freshmen already thinking about post-college job prospects can rest a little easier this week after an analysis this year suggested that UC Berkeley students have some of the best chances of graduating and finding well-paying jobs.

An analysis from Money Magazine has ranked UC Berkeley first among all public colleges in students’ return on investment, or ROI, in the two decades after they graduate. Earlier this year, UC Berkeley earned the top position in Forbes’ “America’s Best Value Colleges” list, and has consistently ranked as one of the best universities in the world.

The report estimated students’ return by comparing their projected median earnings in two different scenarios — 20 years of salary after graduation with four years of tuition and housing costs factored in versus 24 years of earnings without attending college.

UC Berkeley’s ROI of $806,000 is more than $100,000 greater than the next highest college ranked, University of Michigan Ann Arbor. Other UC campuses — like UC San Diego (3), UC Los Angeles (11), UC Davis (15), and UC Irvine (19) — ranked among the top 20.

To account for the prospects of all incoming students, rather than the smaller pool of students that graduate within four years, the analysis focused on schools where graduation rates are greater than 50 percent. At UC Berkeley, 72 percent of students graduate within four years, the report said.

The Money Magazine analysis was based on data from Payscale.com that listed software and mechanical engineers among the most popular jobs for UC Berkeley alumni, and San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles as common destinations for work after graduating.

Students may feel their earnings impacted, however, if they choose to stay local after graduating — last year, realtors named Berkeley the country’s most expensive college town.

Alexander Barreira is the university news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @abarreira_dc.