New Study Gives Prospective Students Idea of Long-term Value of Degrees

Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) announced today an initiative with the U.S. Census Bureau that provides the most comprehensive private college alumni salary and employment data to date, giving aspiring college students key information about the long-term value of their prospective undergraduate degrees.

Many of ICI’s member institutions have joined the U.S. Census Bureau’s Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO) initiative, which matches alumni records to the Bureau’s jobs database. This database includes records on 96% of the jobs in the U.S.  The resulting matched-data show median salaries by undergraduate and graduate major at one, five, and ten years post-graduation.

“Prospective college students and their families are constantly looking for information that demonstrates the return on investment of a college education,” ICI President & CEO David W. Wantz said. “Collecting accurate employment and salary statistics for our graduates has proven to be a challenge, relying as it does on self-report. This new study provides the most transparent, reliable information to date about the long-term value of a college education.”

The new Indiana private college initiative tracked the salary and employment information of alumni graduating between Fall 2012 through December 2015 from 19 member institutions. The results yielded 1-year and 5-year post-graduation salary and employment data, which can be found on the U.S. Census Bureau’s PSEO visualization tool. Some of the findings include:

  • A graduate’s starting salary potential is influenced by the choice of a particular major. Alumni with bachelor’s degrees in computer and information science, engineering, and health professions (particularly nursing) tend to earn the highest initial salaries.
  • Students in the social sciences, humanities, and physical sciences also see significant returns on their degrees. Those returns tend to occur later in their careers. Even so, the Census PSEO data show alumni receiving reasonable returns immediately.
  • Significant numbers of graduates from Indiana’s private colleges contribute to healthcare and social services. Over a quarter (26%) of all ICI alumni employed 1-year after graduation are in the health sector.

Though the data is very specific in matching graduates with jobs and salaries, their data is well-protected. The U.S. Census Bureau’s “state of the art formal privacy disclosure avoidance methods” allow for aggregate salary and employment data to be released without compromising alumni privacy.

Indiana’s public colleges also have linked their data with the U.S. Census Bureau jobs database, making Indiana the first state in the union to offer such extensive, transparent, reliable, and valid information on the value of a college education.


Media Contact: Jen Zentz