Money

10 top colleges where getting a degree pays off the least, according to 24/7 Wall Street ranking

Graduates at Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 2009.
Andrew Lichtenstein | Getty Image
Graduates at Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 2009.

With the high cost of higher education, decisions about where to go to college can be daunting.

In the U.S., 44 million Americans have a total of $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. And recent research indicates that 60 percent of borrowers expect to still be making loan payments in their 40s.

Even worse, "on average, more than 3,000 borrowers default on their federal student loans every day," according to CNBC. At the end of 2016, 4.2 million people were in default on federal student loans.

So figuring out how likely you are to land a well-paying job after graduation is a big concern.

To that end, a recent ranking by website 24/7 Wall Street identifies which of U.S. News & World Report's top colleges "pay off the least," based on post-graduation salary data.

For liberal arts colleges, the results were bleak. 24/7 Wall Street found they represented "the majority of schools producing graduates earning the least."

With some of those schools, like Bennington College in Vermont, the yearly tuition listed is actually more than the resulting annual salary reported.

The discrepancy between the salaries of liberal arts colleges and universities, according to the site, could be because more university students pursue degrees in fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), "which often lead to higher paying jobs."

To create its list, 24/7 Wall Street looked at "the median earnings of students who received federal financial aid that are working and not enrolled in school 10 years after entry from the U.S. Department of Education, last updated in 2017," according to the website. It then compared that data with U.S. News & World Report's 2017 rankings of "the 206 best national universities and liberal arts colleges." (Schools for which there was no income data were omitted.)

The tuition data represents 2016 and 2017, and also came from U.S. News.

Want to see if your school made the list? Look at 24/7 Wall Street's full list. Here are the top 10 as calculated by the site.

10. Beloit College, Beloit, Wis.

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $37,900

Cost of four-year degree: $94,388

Typical student debt: $23,250

9. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, N.Y.

Andrew Lichtenstein | Getty Image

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $37,000

Cost of four-year degree: $133,020

Typical student debt : $13,126

8. Berea College, Berea, Ky.

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $33,400

Cost of four-year degree: $12,268

Typical student debt according to 24/7 Wall Street: $5,428

7. Reed College, Portland, Ore.

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $35,200

Cost of four-year degree: $83,520

Typical student debt according to 24/7 Wall Street: $14,346

6. St John's College, Annapolis, Md.

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $35,200

Cost of four-year degree: $117,824

Typical student debt according to 24/7 Wall Street: $21,000

5. Earlham College, Richmond, Ind.

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $33,400

Cost of four-year degree: $75,676

Typical student debt according to 24/7 Wall Street: $18,500

4. Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif.

88716808
Al Seib | Getty Image

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $30,200

Cost of four-year degree:$81,840

Typical student debt according to 24/7 Wall Street: $16,188

3. St. John's College, Santa Fe, N.M.

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $27,600

Cost of four-year degree: $96,508

Typical student debt according to 24/7 Wall Street: $19,500

2. College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $26,400

Cost of four-year degree: $69,852

Typical student debt according to 24/7 Wall Street: $15,334

1. Bennington College, Bennington, Vt.

Typical salary 10 years after entry: $24,600

Cost of four-year degree: $111,604

Typical student debt according to 24/7 Wall Street: $19,500

Don't miss: Here's how to skip college and go straight to grad school—at MIT

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.