1. Saint Augustine’s University – Return on Investment: -$77,700


Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, claims “the truth will set you free,” but the reality of its returns on investment is harsh. With 974 students and a four-year cost of $129,000 per student, only 23% manage to graduate. Sadly, many of these graduates see limited returns, ending up with a diploma and significant debt.

2. Stillman College – Return on Investment: -$80,400


With just 615 students in 2018, Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, offers a diploma with a meager return on investment. Students shell out $98,700 for a four-year education, but Payscale’s calculation shows a net return of -$80,400 over 20 years. Additionally, the college’s low graduation rate hovers around 23%.

3. Unity College – Return on Investment: -$82,100


In Unity, Maine, the private liberal arts school focuses on sustainability, environmental studies, and natural resources, yet it might struggle to support its graduates’ loan repayment. Payscale reveals a shocking 20-year net return on investment of -$82,100. With a 4-year cost of $151,000, only 54% of students manage to graduate from the college.

4. Emory & Henry College – Return on Investment: -$91,300


Emory’s oldest private liberal arts school in Southwest Virginia has a challenging financial picture. With a 54% graduation rate, the college incurs a significant cost of approximately $179,000 over four years, resulting in a staggering return on investment of -$91,300, as per Payscale’s calculations.

5. Brewton-Parker College – Return on Investment: -$92,200


Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Georgia, offers a tranquil environment for students seeking a small college experience. The town’s population is approximately 2,451, with around 1,119 students from Brewton-Parker College. However, the college’s four-year tuition of $113,000 results in a significant net total return on investment of about -$92,200, paired with a low graduation rate of just 17%.

6. Shaw University – Return on Investment: -$93,600


Shaw University, founded in 1865 in Raleigh, North Carolina, is the first historically black university in the Southern United States. Affectionately known as the “mother of African-American colleges,” it has a significant legacy. However, attending Shaw University comes at a price, with students facing four-year tuition of around $118,000. Despite its historical significance, Payscale’s findings reveal an average return on investment of about -$93,600 for the students.

7. Paine College – Return on Investment: -$94,700


Paine College, a private Methodist school in Augusta, Georgia, is facing challenges in court, with concerns over its regional accreditation due to financial issues. But financial pain isn’t the only issue for the college. Payscale reports that students pay $97,500 for a four-year tuition, but their return on investment after 20 years is discouraging -$94,700. Additionally, the college’s graduation rate stands at an alarming 20%.

8. Rust College – Return on Investment: -$97,100


Located in Holly Springs, Rust College has an average acceptance rate of approximately 43%. It holds a significant tradition as the second-oldest private school in Mississippi and one of the ten remaining historically black colleges and universities. However, the school’s students often face the burden of college debt. With a tuition cost of $63,400, Rust College students typically experience a discouraging return on investment of around -$97,100 over 20 years.

9. Cazenovia College – Return on Investment: -$98,600


Cazenovia College in Upstate New York offers a small-town, liberal arts education for students seeking a close-knit experience. With only 915 students, the college prioritizes personalized attention for student success. However, this quality education comes at a cost, with students investing around $184,000 for four years yet experiencing an average return on investment of approximately -$98,600.

10. St. Andrew’s University – Return on Investment: -$98,800


Look no further than St. Andrew’s University in Laurinburg, North Carolina, for a picturesque college campus in a small town. With a beautiful lake running through the middle, the campus exudes charm. However, despite the idyllic setting, the university doesn’t always prepare its students for the post-graduate world. The hefty $167,000 four-year college tuition results in an average return on investment of approximately -$98,800 over 20 years. It’s not a pretty picture for alumni.