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Sonoma State among lowest CSUs on investment returns

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 17:11

The value of education seems to have been decreasing, and Sonoma State University has been dealing with the recent issue of the return on investment of students’ tuition after graduating and entering into the workforce.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org recently released a list of 62 California colleges as having the highest return on investment out of 767 colleges. Sonoma State ranked 45th on the list, which many welcomed as pleasant news.

The Press Democrat wrote a story based on the list, stating the numbers used in the study:
“SSU was found to have a return on investment of $546,000 on annual tuition of $5,472. That return is a person’s lifetime earnings as a result of earning a college degree minus the cost of getting the degree,” said Jeremy Hay, a writer for the Press Democrat.

Shortly after the article came out, sociology professor Noel Byrne brought the study and the article to the SSU Academic Senate’s attention, saying that the two were somewhat misleading and did not accurately reflect Sonoma State’s fees.

Each CSU campus charges a base tuition of $5,472 a year, but with additional fees such as health services, student body association and instructionally related activities, Sonoma State’s annual tuition amounts to $7,234 – the third highest out of all the CSUs.

“It turns out that [in the Affordable Colleges list], California SSU ranks below all of the UCs, below a number of California private colleges, and below 13 of the 23 CSU campuses,” said Byrne.  “In other words, SSU ranks among the bottom set of CSU campuses, with a significantly large majority of CSU campuses outshining SSU with respect to return on investment. ”

The Affordable Colleges  Online webpage measured the rankings of California colleges’ return on investment and used external data from PayScale.com, Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, the National Center for Education Statistics and the Carnegie Foundation.

According to the AC Online’s list of highest ROI colleges in California, the top ranking college campus is Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, and the lowest is Biola University in La Mirada.

Sonoma State ranks 45th out of the 62 colleges in the state. This means that the university has a smaller probability to earn higher wages for a degree earned, which in turn makes it more difficult for graduates to pay off any student debt they may have incurred while attending the school.

“SSU ranks near the top in an unfortunate category; costs to students in tuition and fees graduated from Sonoma State University,” said Byrne.

As reported by the California State University website, the university is actually one of the most costly schools to attend in regards to tuition costs and fees.

With a $7,234 annual tuition, Sonoma State is third in the CSU system to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and San Jose State. Sonoma State has the highest Instructionally Related Activities fee, the second highest Student Body Center fee and the fourth highest Student Body Association fee.

Some students are upset about SSU’s comparably low ROI, given its high costs. “I’m pretty surprised to know we are paying so much and not getting what we need out of it,” said student Jessica Sanchez.

To view the study, visit www.affordablecollegesonline.org/online-colleges/california.

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