Understanding the Attributes: Financial Success

A college degree has long been the ticket to higher income, greater wealth and future economic success. When compared to the average US household, college graduate households are significantly better off financially. According to the 2010 US census, roughly 20% of all US households have income in excess of $100,000. In our study, that number soars to 50% for college graduate households. The statistics are similar for net worth – the median household net worth of a college graduate is more than three times that of a high school graduate. It is clear college graduates are representative of the most influential, best-educated and wealthiest segment of the US population.

Of all the data we have collected and analyzed, the financial data typically generate the most interest. Everyone loves to see what others earn and how they stack up versus their contemporaries. However, financial success is not the primary goal of every graduate. For example, a school that develops excellent teachers and promotes a high proportion of its graduates to the teaching profession will not do as well in this measure.

Household income and net worth differ by region of the country, gender, number of workers in a household, chosen field and a number of other factors.

We use four key financial measures for our rankings:

1. Weighted average income of graduate households

2. Percentage of graduates with high-income households (above $150K annually)

3. Weighted average net worth of graduate households

4. Percentage of graduates with high-net-worth households (above $1 million)

Each of the four measures is given equal weight in our ranking process.