Whether these colleges are in lawsuit hell, have a sky-high drop-out rate, or have just plainly left you in thousands of dollars of debt, they all have a rotten reputation. Here are all the schools that have made the list of worst academic institutions in the United States.
Johnson State College
Location: Johnson, Vermont
Johnson State was established back in 1828. In 2018, however, it merged with the nearby (former) Lyndon State and became Northern Vermont University.
The acceptance rate at NVU is 95%, but the graduation rate is only 37%. Tuition is also fairly high, at $15,000 per year on average.
Location: Appleton, Wisconsin
You could certainly do worse than Lawrence University, which has a graduation rate of 80%, but you’ll have to spend a ton of money if you choose to attend, and you may not get the reward you’re hoping for.
The annual tuition cost is over $47,000, but most grads only make around $44,000 per year 10 years after enrolling.
Plymouth State University
Location: Plymouth, New Hampshire
This school has actually fired a professor (and reprimanded another) for assisting a former student at a sentencing hearing in court.
Granted, the charges against her were pretty bad, but regardless of the school administration's feelings on the case, those disciplinary actions violated the staff members’ freedom of speech.
Rhode Island College
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Rhode Island College is far from being at the bottom of the barrel on this list, but they also have some major room for improvement. For instance, in New England, living costs are pretty high, so the median salary of $37,000 won’t cut it for graduates.
Not to mention the average loan debt is nearly $26,000. Compared to some others, the difference is greater in those numbers, which is a good thing, but you should still keep searching. There are plenty of other, better schools nearby.
Fountainhead College of Technology
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee (closed)
This private school was established in 1847, but shut its doors on October 31st, 2018, after struggling to stay afloat for quite some time.
Before it closed its doors, it was charging too much and leaving students with loads of debt and a median salary that was too little for them to pay it off.
Location: Oneonta, New York
Hartwick seems like it’s more trouble (on the wallet) than it’s worth.
For starters, the graduation rate is just 58%. And those who do complete their programs on time only end up earning an average of $48,500 per year after spending $48,120 on their yearly tuition.
Location: Tyler, Texas
Texas has a lot of things going for it. Texas College isn’t one of them. The school’s graduation rate is one of the worst on this list, at a sad 12%, which is actually lower than last year by about a half percent. But that’s only the beginning of the bad at Texas College.
The average six-year salary for college grads is just over $23,000. Put that up against the loan debt of around $21,000, and it goes to show why this school is one of the worst in the Western world.
Location: Boca Raton, FL
This university is another one that has some good things going for it – like its beautiful campuses in sunny Florida. Unfortunately, they’re also known for policies that milk students for every cent they have.
According to former students, it’s best to save your money and find a school that isn’t so expensive and has credits that are more widely accepted for transfers.
University of Montevallo
Location: Montevallo, Alabama
This public university in Alabama seems to be trailing behind in terms of what their grads get out of their time at Montevallo.
Take their average debt of nearly $26,0000 compared to the median salary of $38,300. Maybe that’s why only 47% of students choose to complete their programs at this school.
Location: Middlebury, Vermont
This is another school that has come under fire for its policies that restrict freedom of speech and violate the U.S. Constitution.
The most recent example is their anti-discrimination and harassment policy.
Ultimate Medical Academy
Location: Clearwater, Florida, Online
This private school operates largely online but has campuses in a couple of cities throughout Florida as well. The school is run by ex-Trump University officials and is technically considered a not-for-profit academy, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good investment, either.
Just peruse the Better Business Bureau’s website or the many lawsuits against the school to tell you everything you need to know.
Jackson State University
Location: Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson State has had its fair share of negative press over the years, both for the actions of faculty and students alike.
They also have a low graduation rate of just around 43%.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Wheelock College is known for its renowned educational and human development programs.
But when you consider how low most teachers in this country get paid, it’s ridiculous that they’re charging an average of more than $200,000 for a four-year degree. Just think of the debt these graduates are struggling with.
Laramie County Community College
Location: Cheyenne, Wyoming
One good thing about this school is the super low cost. In-state students pay just $3,306 per year, which is much lower than most of the other universities in the area, and in the Western world in general. Then again, it is a community college, and that’s sort of the whole point.
The graduation rate at Laramie County is just over 25%, which is pretty sad. If you’re determined to go to a community college, head to Western Wyoming in either Rock Springs or Green River.
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Of the 20 schools on Insurify’s list of the most dangerous college campuses in the country, Marquette University sits in ninth place.
But they also have the highest rate of property crimes on the list. Plus, their tuition runs each student nearly $39,000 per year.
University of Wisconsin
System Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Apparently, the president of the University of Wisconsin System in Madison isn’t mature enough to handle sex education, as evidenced when he reprimanded a faculty member for their choice of speakers, followed by a fierce audit.
Needless to say, this school is one of the worst in the country for free speech – at least, under Ray Cross’ leadership, that is.
Sewanee-University of the South
Location: Sewanee, Tennessee
If money is of any concern to you, save it and find yourself a school with a better ROI. Sewanee charges an average of over $54,000, but the median salary only ends up being around $45,500, and that’s 10 years after entry.
If you’ve got deep pockets, however, you could definitely do worse than this school which has a graduation rate of 79%.
Location: Chicago, Illinois DeVry
University is ranked among some of the worst schools in the country according to numerous publications including Consumer Affairs and Grad Reports. As many of the classes are online and can feel very impersonal.
The graduation rate is just under 21%, and students tend to come away from their time at the school loaded up with debt – over $30,000 – and little else to show for it. According to multiple former online students, getting to talk to someone about any issues you’re experiencing can be a runaround, customer service phone line type of process.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
This school made the list for a couple of reasons, the first of which being the fact they have one of the highest property crime rates in the country.
Sadly, they only graduate 55% of their students, which is low comparatively speaking (but definitely not the lowest).
West Virginia State University
Location: Institute, West Virginia
West Virginia State University accepts 96% of applicants, but out of the more than 3,850 students, only 22% of them complete the program on average. Then there’s the pitiful average salary of under $30,000 – six years after graduation.
When you’ve got loans from WVSU that total approximately $31,000, it seems like there are much better choices, although maybe not so much in the direct vicinity.
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
LeMoyne-Owen is just bad news all around. The numbers are all over the place – and definitely not in a good way. The average salary of a graduate is less than $29,000 six years after entry. And that’s for the 20% of students who actually do graduate.
But if all of that wasn’t bad enough, graduates also get stuck with an average of nearly $37,000 in loan debt. According to the statistics, it seems like you should stay far, far away from this school.
Location: Forest City, Iowa
Waldorf University has an interesting past as a part of the Forest City Great Hotel War. But its rich history doesn’t prevent its low graduation rate, which is currently sitting around 31%. Plus, loans can get expensive, and you may find yourself facing off with nearly $28,000 in debt on average.
Nonetheless, Waldorf has some pretty good academic and athletic programs and has seen its share of notable graduates, including NFL player Ian Beckles and novelist Rebecca Fjelland Davis.
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Hollins University could be worse, but it also has some serious room for improvement that should be taken into consideration when looking for schools.
For instance, the tuition is higher than average, at nearly $37,000. When you add on living expenses, students shell out about $53,000 every year.
Agnes Scott College
Location: Decatur, Georgia
This Southern school doesn’t offer graduates much in the form of a median salary, which is around $39,000 10 years after they begin their journey at Agnes Scott.
Compare that to the annual attendance cost of $41,160, and you can see why maybe it’s best to keep searching for other colleges.
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Save your money and keep looking for somewhere that offers a better median salary than Macalester College in St. Paul.
They’re expensive, charging more than $54,000 per year to attend, and yet many graduates report earning less than $48,000.
Purdue University Global,
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Online Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, has some big issues. Purdue Global, formerly the for-profit Kaplan University, is so bad that it actually makes students sign a waiver during the admissions process that waives their right to sue the school if (more like when) it becomes problematic.
And their acquisition of the shady, tarnished school is a testament to the fact Purdue cares more about money than it does about its students.
St. John’s College
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
If you live in or around the Annapolis area, you may be considering St. John’s College for higher education.
There are worse schools around Maryland by far, but you should know that they don’t have the best ROI at this one, either. Especially when you consider the low median salary of just over $33,000 – 10 years after the fact.
Location: Muskogee, Oklahoma
This school, which was formerly known as Bacone Indian College, has a crazy low graduation rate, with just around 15% of students completing their program. And, those who do complete it have an average salary of less than $35,000 to look forward to, and that’s six years later.
To top it off, the college serves nearly 960 students and accepts 50% of those who apply.
Location: Conway, Arkansas
This private liberal arts college in Arkansas costs $45,690 per year to attend, but students only make an average of $39,700 after graduation – and that’s ten years after entry.
So you can imagine the kind of debt they’re dealing with.
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
It may seem like an absolute dream to go to college in Hawaii. After all, many Hawaiian college campuses are near the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see in your life. Chaminade University isn’t one of the worst ones on this list by far, but they aren’t very good, either – especially if the price is a factor.
The school has tuition that’s higher than average, and students usually wind up with around $26,000 in debt. That may not be horrible, but six years after entry, the salary for a Chaminade grad averages less than $39,000. One thing they’ve got going for them is the low default rate, which is just over 5.5%.
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Keiser University in Ft. Lauderdale isn’t a terrible school, but it’s definitely not among the best in the country, either.
In fact, it’s ranked at #272 – so there are at least 271 better schools for you to choose from. Plus, tuition is pretty expensive, at around $18,000.
Location: Middletown, Connecticut
Wesleyan University has a wonderful graduation rate of 93%, but they’ve made the list because of their less-than-desirable return on investment.
That’s because they charge nearly $55,000 per year – which is about the median salary of Wesleyan grads 10 years after entry.
Location: Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee
If you’re looking for a school with any sort of social scene or nightlife in the area, you might want to continue your search.
Johnson is located in Kimberlin Heights, which has a population of fewer than 2,000 people. Plus, graduates are looking at spending too much and earning too little, with an ROI of around -$97,000.
University of Cincinnati
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
If you’re looking to spend a ton of money on tuition with the possibility of not making nearly enough money over the next ten years or so to make a dent in your student loan debt – go for it!
They charge out-of-state students nearly $27,000 per year. Plus, they’re number 18 on Insurify’s list of the top 20 most dangerous college campuses in the U.S.
College Location: South Hadley, Massachusetts
This school is another that doesn’t offer its students the best return on their investment.
The average cost to attend is nearly $50,000, but the median salary is only $48,600.
Florida Memorial University
Location: Miami, Florida
Florida Memorial University is another one of those schools that could be worse, but also isn’t exactly great. They have a nice-looking campus in the Sunshine State, but there are still a few problems with this school, including a low graduation rate which is just 38%.
The median salary – just over $36,500 – also doesn’t fair very well against the high tuition, which is nearly $23,000 each year.
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
This private Baptist liberal arts school in Raleigh, NC, probably shouldn’t be at the top of your list of choices for places to get a higher education. The graduation rate is just over 25%, which isn’t very promising. And, those who do graduate wind up stuck with over $28,000 in debt.
When you consider the fact that their median salary is only $1,200 more, you can see why Shaw earned their spot amongst the worst colleges in the US.
Lewis & Clark College
Location: Portland, Oregon
The ROI at Lewis & Clark is actually worse than Skidmore’s by just a bit.
A yearly investment of around $51,000 will get you $46,200 back annually once you’ve been out of school for ten years.
Mt. Sierra College, California
Location: Monrovia, California (Closed)
Mt. Sierra College in Monrovia shut down in June of 2019 after its president gave just a one-day notice alerting students to the goings-on. In 2013, more than 350 students left their programs due to accreditation issues when the school was placed on a warning list.
After that, everything went downhill until they completely ran out of money. The students who were left behind were transferred to the equally as troubled DeVry University. Before the closure, the graduation rate was an embarrassing 6.2%.
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
While Colorado College has some good things going for it, such as the 86% graduation rate, the ROI is questionable at best.
The school is super picky, accepting only 16% of applicants, though those who get accepted have a $38,000 median salary to look forward to upon graduation. However, that’s after paying nearly $50,000 per year for their degree.
Location: Ellisville, Mississippi
Tuition may be extremely affordable at this community college in Mississippi, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to attend. Jones is on FIRE’s top ten list of the worst schools for free speech in the country.
One of the lawyers for the organization even called them the “worst of the worst.” Steer very clear of this school, unless, of course, you don’t really care about your first amendment rights.
Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Stillman College’s graduate rate is an embarrassing 11% - one of the lowest rates on the entire list.
Plus, those who do make it through the end of their programs are still looking at a -$80,000 return on their investment.
Montana State University Billings
Location: Billings, Montana
After reading about some of the previous schools on this list, Montana State University Billings’ graduation rate of 28% doesn’t seem all too bad, does it? But in the grand scheme of things and on a list of all of the schools in the nation, it’s still pretty lousy.
Students will graduate with an average debt of over $22,000 and make a salary of less than $35,000 more than six years after entry. It’s probably best to keep searching for a better school.
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
Although they’re located in a gorgeous area, this is another school that has an ROI that’s just plain bad.
Why would anyone want to spend $44,540 per year to make $42,200 in the future? If you’re considering Eckerd, you may want to rethink your options.
Location: Flint, Michigan
Baker College in Flint, Michigan, is in the midst of shutting down. In August of 2020, the Flint Township campus closed – although they just consolidated and moved to Owosso. It’s no secret that the people living in Flint have dealt with their fair share of (serious) problems over the past several years, which continues to this day.
Aside from the obvious issues, local grads are dealing with more than $22,000 in debt and struggling to pay it, thanks to an average salary of just over $27,000.
Location: Gambier, Ohio
Kenyon College in Ohio has some good things going for it, including its high graduation rate of nearly 90%.
Students pay a pretty penny every year to attend the Midwestern school, however – almost $56,000. But that number looks even worse if you compare it to the median ten-year salary of $48,700.
Long Island University
Location: Brooklyn, New York
This university has an acceptance rate of 88%, which makes the 32% graduation rate look even lower than it is.
They have also faced scrutiny more than once for their policies that restrict free speech.
Location: Franklin Springs, Georgia
Emmanuel doesn’t exactly graduate a very comforting percentage of its students either, just 45%.
And after paying more than $27,000 per year, students deserve to walk away with their degree.
Location: Augusta, Georgia
The numbers at Paine College are all over the place – and not in a good way. Take their incredibly low graduation rate of just 20%.
In fact, this school has been around for nearly 150 years and only has about 6,000 living graduates today. When you put that up against Harvard’s 371,000, it’s pretty pitiful.
Location: New London, Connecticut
Steer clear of Connecticut College. They have a terrible ROI and have been under fire for policies that prohibit free speech.
They do, however, have a pretty good graduation rate for those who are brave enough to attend.
Location: Syracuse, New York
Syracuse University in New York graduates 80% of its students – but only after they have to endure bogus anti-free speech policies.
Students have been expelled for skits and investigated for blogs. It’s really a wonder why the school has the first amendment written across one of its buildings.
Location: San Diego, CA
In 2017, Ashford University was sued by the California attorney general for making “false promises” to students and trying illegal methods of collecting their debt. Graduates of Ashford have trouble finding jobs that pay enough for them to make a dent in their loans.
Stay far, far away from this university in San Diego.
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
More than 2,300 undergraduates attend Vassar each year, all of them paying around $57,000 for the opportunity.
But after ten years, most graduates are making less than $55,000 – that doesn’t seem worth the effort, does it?
University of California, Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles, California
The University of California has a ton of good things going for it and is actually a pretty great school for a number of reasons, including the 91% graduation rate. But there is a big but...
They made the list because their campus is listed as having the second-highest crime rate of all the higher education facilities in the country, according to Insurify.
Location: Whittier, California
Nearly 1,690 undergraduates pass through the halls of Whittier each year, and they all pay somewhere around $47,886.
But the median salary of an alum is just $46,800 – something about that doesn’t seem right, does it?
Lewis-Clark State College
Location: Lewiston, Idaho
Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, isn’t going to ruin your life or anything, but it might leave you – and your wallet – a bit dissatisfied. They’ve got some positive things in their corner, like their 97% acceptance rate and their low tuition, which averages around $11,000 per year.
But they also have some room for improvement, like their graduation rate, which is just over 30%. On average, students will also find themselves facing nearly $20,000 in loan debt.
Savannah Law School
Location: Savannah, Georgia
The Savannah Law School, owned by the John Marshall Law School in Georgia, shut its doors in 2018 after multiple lawsuits were filed against them. This included a class-action suit that claimed the school misrepresented themselves and their financial status and continued to accept students and take their money.
They did this even when they knew they would be shutting down before they could complete their degree programs.
Location: Campbellsville, Kentucky
Campbellsville seems bad all the way around. Sure, they accept 70% of applicants, so then why do only 39% of students complete their programs?
Maybe it’s because the ones who go for all four years have to shell out over $183,000.
Grambling State University
Location: Grambling, Louisiana
Ah, Grambling State, “the place where everybody is somebody,” – and also where you walk away carrying an average of over $28,000 in debt. Of course, their median starting salary for alums could be worse than it is, which is currently $43,600.
Grambling State is ranked between number 96-122 among regional universities in the South alone. So, you can imagine where that puts it on a national list.
Location: Orangeburg, South Carolina
Claflin doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to its graduation rate, which is just over 52%.
Aside from that, only 86% of graduates report being employed six years after entry.
New England College
Location: Henniker, New Hampshire
This private liberal arts school in New Hampshire has a crazy high acceptance rate, taking in nearly 100% of students who apply. About 36% of students complete their programs, which is fairly low on average – especially considering how many undergraduates are accepted every year.
In 2016, there were nearly 1,800 students at New England College, all of which shelled out around $27,000 to attend. But the average debt is probably the worst aspect of this school, at an astonishingly high $34,500.
Location: San Diego, California
This school, located in San Diego, has seen its fair share of controversy since opening its doors in 1996.
On the Better Business Bureau website, they have a pathetic one-star rating, which probably has something to do with the fact they’ve been sued by former students in a class-action lawsuit for bait-and-switch techniques and false recruiting practices.
Indiana University Northwest
Location: Gary, Indiana
Anyone that’s from the Midwestern united states is familiar with Gary – and not for anything good. The city, which is located on the border of Illinois and Indiana, is known for being an industrial town that can choke you with the thick smog from the factories – or, the noxious petroleum odors that they emit, to be exact.
But if you can fight the smell and want to stick around in Gary to go to school, it’s super affordable, with an average rate of less than $9,000/year.
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Le Cordon Bleu was once seen as the ultimate school for up-and-coming five-star chefs. Now, it’s shut down all of its campuses in the United States and dropped nearly $495 million in loans – a good thing for its former students, who were on the hook for all of that money after its closure.
The chain, which was run by a group known as Career Education, was once the nation’s largest for-profit education system.
Pacific Northwest College of Art
Location: Portland, Oregon
Portland is a super liberal hipster area that attracts artsy types from all over the place. Some of them come to attend the art schools in the area, including Pacific Northwest College of Art. Unfortunately, students who apply and make it in, which 94% do, wind up with a hefty load of student loan debt over $22,000.
When you couple that with the median earnings more than five years later, around a measly $27,000, it hardly seems worth the time, trouble, and, most of all, money. There are much better art schools in the area if you’re going to spend $35,000 or more on tuition, anyway.
Location: Claremont, California
Pitzer College actually has a lot of good things going for it, including a beautiful campus and a strong sense of community, according to many of its former students and professors. But it’s made this list because it’s also known for its pretty pathetic return on investment (ROI.)
Students spend over $52,000 per year on average, and yet 10 years after entry, the median salary of a graduate is less than $49,000.
New England Institute of Art
Location: Brookline, Massachusetts
This for-profit arts college in Massachusetts was so awful that it’s been shut down for good. If you check out some of the old reviews on Yelp, you’ll see its measly 2-star rating – lower than any other school on this list thus far. For some reason, the school had an extremely low acceptance rate at just 31% in 2010, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a for-profit school to do.
Nevertheless, it was closed in 2017. The Art Institute corporation as a whole seems to be a pretty shady operation – which is probably why they were sued for $11 billion for fraud by the US Department of Justice.
Dixie State University
Location: St. George, Utah
Dixie State has made headlines for its restriction of free speech on numerous occasions. Two tenured professors were fired most recently for discussing another’s bid and tried to offer them ridiculous contracts to keep them quiet if they stayed on.
The school has also been in hot water with FIRE’s lawyers for censoring student flyers and banning its sororities and fraternities from using the Greek alphabet.
Location: Cazenovia, New York
This school in New York serves an undergraduate population of nearly 1,000 students, many of whom will see a lackluster ROI.
Cazenovia costs $46,000 per year to attend, which translates to massive amounts of debt.
St. Andrews University
Location: Laurinburg, North Carolina
St. Andrews could be worse, but they’ve also got some issues they need to address, which is mainly their cost of tuition versus the number of debt graduates are left with.
That’s what happens when you spend more than $41,000 per year to earn a degree.
Location: Richmond, Indiana
Earlham College is definitely not cheap to attend. In fact, it costs over $46,000 per year for the privilege of learning within the walls of this Midwestern school.
Except when you compare the cost with the median 10-year earnings of just $35,000, it seems like it’s best to keep searching.
Harris-Stowe State University
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
This public university in St. Louis has a graduation rate that makes 30% look like 90%. A mere 8% of students make it all the way through the programs. Considering they had nearly 1,500 undergrads in the 2016-2017 school year, which means only about 120 students out of over 1,500 graduates.
They also have one of the worst median salaries for alumni – less than $27,000 after six years. What is going on at Harris-Stowe State?
St. Lawrence University
Location: Canton, New York
St. Lawrence costs almost $55,000 per year to attend, but ten years after enrollment, students only earn an average salary of around $50,000.
Those numbers seem less than ideal.
Wright Career College
Location: Overland Park, KS (Closed)
The former and disgraced Wright Career College left students hanging out in the wind when the nonprofit group behind the school, Mission Group Kansans Inc, filed for bankruptcy.
WCC closed and left students on the hook for millions. Four students involved sued Mission Group and won the case in the form of a $3 million settlement.
Fayetteville State University
Location: Fayetteville, North Carolina
The numbers just don’t add up for Fayetteville Stat graduates, so it’s best to keep searching for a better school – which there are plenty of in North Carolina. The median salary for grads is less than $30,000 more than ten years after starting the program. Yikes.
They also have a low graduation rate at just 35%, which isn’t very good. One pro they do have going for them is their average tuition of less than $6,000 per year.
Mississippi Valley State University
Location: Itta Bena, Mississippi
This public university in Mississippi has a particularly low graduation rate at just 30%. When you consider they have an acceptance rate of nearly 85%, that makes it seem even worse. But it’s still not as bad as the shockingly low median salary of graduates more than five years after graduation.
The average income Mississippi Valley State alumni are earning is less than $24,000. That’s lower than the debt a lot of students are left with – nearly $33,000!
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Stay far away from Independence University in Salt Lake City – even as a prospective student. They’re notorious for aggressive recruiting tactics and shady business practices. The school was formerly known as Stevens Henager College, which had been sued by the federal government for paying illegal incentives to its recruiters.
Red flags, all of the red flags. Run away from Independence University.
Location: Chicago, Illinois
This culinary college in Chicago has a high acceptance rate of 84%. And it’s no wonder, considering they make an average of $184,900 for every student who earns a four-year degree at their institution.
Couple the $46,000 per year with the low graduation rate of just 35%, and you can see why Kendall is on this list.
The University of Maine at Augusta
Location: Augusta, Maine
Those who decide to attend the University of Maine at Augusta probably do so to stay close to family, and because its in-state tuition is less than $8,000/year. But if you’re in Maine, you’re not that far away from some of the best schools in the country.
New England is home to Yale, MIT, Harvard, and Dartmouth. But even if you’re not looking at Ivy League, there are better choices. This school’s median starting salary, less than $28,000, just isn’t worth the trouble.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Location: Geneva, New York
More than 2,300 undergrads pass through Hobart and William Smith Colleges every year, but they’re paying a pretty penny for the privilege – and at what cost? Well, $55,255 per year, to be exact.
And 10 years after entry, they can expect to earn an average of even less, around $53,000.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern is a prestigious university in New England. Unfortunately, they’ve got one of the highest property crime rates in the US, with nearly 127 crimes per 10,000 students.
These kinds of crimes can be anything from burglary to car theft. The good news is that graduates of this school will likely go on to be able to afford to buy a new vehicle.
Columbia College Hollywood
Location: Los Angeles, California
Stay far away from this private school in Los Angeles. Unless you want to pay more than $10,000/year over the average for your tuition, anyway.
Couple that with the low graduation rate of 35% and the crippling debt you’re left if you do graduate, and it’s easy to see why Columbia College Hollywood made our list of the worst schools in the country.
Location: Atlanta, GA
This former, for-profit university had many troubles that led to its ultimate closure just earlier last year. For starters, the six-year graduation rate was just 13%, and more than 15% of graduates defaulted on their loans.
But that doesn’t compare to the fact they failed to distribute more than $16 million in federal loan funds, and the U.S. Department of Education banned them from accessing any more funds in the future.
College Location: Swannanoa, North Carolina
This college is located on a sprawling, beautiful campus right outside of Asheville, North Carolina.
They’ve got a mediocre graduation rate at just over 53%, and the cost of tuition versus the starting salary doesn’t exactly equal out to be very beneficial to grads, especially considering the amount of debt they’re left saddled with.
Location: San Diego, California
California College is another case of spending too much time and effort and reaping little reward – if you reap at all. That’s because the average income of a grad more than five years after graduation is less than $40,000 per year.
That may not sound too shabby, but that’s five years of experience plus a bachelor’s degree – which should equal out to more than that. Especially when you take into consideration that the average debt for alums is nearly $32,000. Something about that equation just doesn’t add up.
Location: Walla Walla, Washington
Whitman’s graduation rate is much better than most others on this list, coming in at 87%. The reason they’re on here, however, is the negative ROI.
The annual tuition and average ten-year earnings are both right around $51,000.
Location: Norton, Massachusetts
Students shell out an average of $52,626 per year to attend Wheaten College, but the return on investment just doesn’t add up.
Ten years after entry, grads can only expect to earn around $48,400.
Nevada State College
Location: Henderson, Nevada
If you live near this school, you could do worse, but there are also much, much better schools than Nevada State College in the area. The tuition isn’t incredibly expensive, though it is higher than some other local schools at around $12,000/year. Graduates can typically expect to walk away with around the same amount in debt.
The school’s graduation rate is also low, at just under 28%. The good news about Nevada State is that they have a 76% acceptance rate – for those who are interested in attending.
Coppin State University
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
So, we’re still up in New England at Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland, surrounded by amazing colleges. But Coppin itself really isn’t such a bad school. In fact, it’s ranked in the top five in the state for its online program.
But no amount of value in the world is going to save you if you don’t finish the program, which apparently just around 20% do. If you’re among the ones lucky enough to graduate, you’ve got a median salary of less than $40,000 to look forward to.
Location: Ogden, Utah
In 2014, the U.S. Justice Department sued Stevens-Henager College in Ogden for paying recruiters to admit students. Unfortunately, many students who chose to attend are now saddled with nearly $35,000 in average loan debt.
The graduation rate is fairly high for the list at 42%, but almost 20% of students wind up defaulting, probably because of the low starting salary of just $24,200.
Virginia Union University
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Union only has a 25% graduation rate, which is much lower than the national average of around 55%. The cost of attendance is also much higher than the average, at $19,000. They only have a 41% acceptance rate, and graduates find themselves facing nearly $26,000 in loan debt.
They can also have a hard time paying off those loans, due to the $32,000 median salary. This is most likely why over 15% of grads will default on their loan payments.
Location: Feasterville-Trevose, Pennsylvania
Strayer University, located in Bensalem Township, doesn’t exactly have the best reputation among schools in New England, much less the country. Of course, it isn’t one of the worst of the worst, but it’s definitely somewhere in the middle. Strayer has a graduation rate of just 22%, which is slightly above what it was over the past couple of years.
They do, however, have a median salary of over $45,000, which is much higher than some other schools on this list. It may not be great compared to what’s possible, but it definitely beats $24,000!
Location: Los Angeles, California
This school has a pretty large student body, comparatively speaking, with more than 2,000 undergraduate students in attendance last year alone.
But the payoff at Occidental hardly seems worth the payments. The college costs nearly $55,000 per year to attend, but the median salary ten years after entry is just over $50,000.
Edward Waters College
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
This private college in Jacksonville is another whose reputation among alumni isn’t too positive. If you search for reviews, you’ll find a lot of three-star ratings, mainly about how disorganized everything seems to be. And that may contribute to the low graduation rate, which is less than 20%, and the pitiful median salary of graduates after six years – less than $30,000.
Couple that with the average student debt of nearly $23,000, and you can see why Edward Waters has earned its spot on this list.
Maine College of Art
Location: Portland, Maine
This school has a much smaller student body than the others on this list, with just around 500 in attendance last year. The ROI is shoddy at best; in fact, it’s just shoddy.
Those who choose to attend shell out $46,000 per year and don’t typically wind up making enough to clear their debt.
Location: Clearwater, Florida
Sunstate Academy is a private beauty college that charges more than most grads can even expect to earn.
Students pay over $20,500 per year and the median starting salary is just $17,700.
Ohio Wesleyan University
Location: Delaware, Ohio
Ohio Wesleyan doesn’t exactly seem like the optimal place to earn your higher education.
Mainly because the yearly tuition of $45,670 and the ten-year average earnings of $45,300 don’t add up at all.
Location: Unity, Maine
Students at Unity College pay over $38,000 per year for their education.
But when they graduate, they find themselves in more debt than they can handle, with an ROI of -$98,000.
Location: Galesburg, Illinois Knox
College costs nearly $47,000 per year to attend, but 10 years after entry, grads don’t even average a $40,000/year salary.
What gives, Knox College?
The Art Institute of Atlanta
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
The Art Institute of Atlanta is just bad, bad news all around. Just refer to Yelp and the average two stars to tell you what you need to know. Or, if you prefer solid numbers, just look at their statistics. The graduation rate is a mere 23%, and those who do graduate often find themselves on the hook for over $31,000 in loans.
The school has closed several of its locations, and according to numerous people who have dealt with it, it’s a “pure scam.” Yikes – it’s probably best to do a bit more research into them if you have any interest in attending.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Reed graduates can only expect to earn a median salary of just over $42,000 – and that’s a decade after beginning their journey with the school.
Couple the low pay with the $54,000 annual cost of attendance and you can see why it’s best to steer clear of this one.
Location: Huntington, West Virginia
Marshall University was ranked third on a list of the most dangerous college campuses in America, due to its violent crime rate, which is sort of interesting, considering if you look up “things to do in Huntington, West Virginia,” all that comes up are farms and parks.
Plus, they’ve got a pretty low graduation rate at just 46%.
Location: Aurora, New York
What is going on at Wells College that makes their graduates' annual wages so much lower than the amount they charge students every year? The average salary for grads ten years after entry is just $35,100, while tuition is over $40,000.
Perhaps that’s why only 58% of attendees complete their programs at this school.
Location: Granville, Ohio
Ten years after students first start their programs at Denison University in Ohio, they can only look forward to a salary of around $48,800.
Pair that with the $51,000 annual cost to attend, and it doesn’t seem like education at this school is the best investment.
Location: Erie, Pennsylvania
The numbers at Mercyhurst are way off. Just look at their tuition, which adds up to nearly $180,000 for a four-year degree.
That may not seem awful in the long run – until you find out that after graduation, most alumni are making somewhere around $41,000.
Mayville State University
Location: Mayville, North Dakota
Well, after seeing graduation rates as low as 8%, Mayville State’s 40.6% seems pretty great, actually. But it’s not, so don’t let the comparison between a bad, bad school and a “meh” bad school fool you. Unless you’re okay with meh, in which case you should be prepared to take on around $27,000 in debt and earn a median salary of nearly $40,000.
Although, some median salaries on this list are between $15,000-$20,000 less – so you could definitely do worse than this school in North Dakota.
Location: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Wilson College has been around for 150 years, which may seem like a good thing.
That is until you consider the kind of money the students are spending versus what they’re getting in return -$86,000.
Location: Toppenish, Washington
This private university is located on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington. It actually has some pretty great things going for it, so it isn’t all bad. It has the best graduation rate out of any school on this list so far at over 84% - which is unfathomably higher than 8%.
It isn’t terribly expensive, but it’s not cheap either, with the average student paying $11,742 per year. The median salary at six years isn’t very good, either, and is currently reported at right around $35,000.
California Baptist University
Location: Riverside, California
In California, the SB 1146 bill works to protect students at private universities from discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.
But CBU actively worked against it and has expelled students simply for being transgendered.
Martin Luther College
Location: New Ulm, Minnesota
Martin Luther College seems to be all about sports, as nearly a third of all students participate in varsity sports programs.
But unless you’re planning on being a professional athlete, you should consider the fact you’re looking at an ROI of around -$122,000.
Location: Grinnell, Iowa
As far as academics go, Grinnell has one of the best liberal arts programs in the country.
But in order to attend, you’ve got to make it through their 20% acceptance rate and shell out nearly $49,000 per year.
Central State University
Location: Wilberforce, Ohio
If you live near Central State in Wilberforce, Ohio, and you’re interested in sticking around, you should know what you’ll get yourself into if you choose to attend. Probably the biggest thing to be aware of is the fact students graduate with an average of nearly $27,000 in loan debt.
The other is that six years after entry, the median earnings of a Central State alum are just over $26,000. Something about that doesn’t quite add up.
University of Montana
Western Location: Dillon, Montana
This college may be located in an absolutely gorgeous area – but don’t let its aesthetic charm fool you.
Graduates can expect a $-70,000 ROI, and that’s only if they’re part of the 47% to complete their programs at the University of Montana Western.
Location: Beloit, Wisconsin
The annual cost to attend this college in Wisconsin is over $50,000, but the median salary of graduates 10 years after enrollment is just $42,400.
That doesn’t seem like a very good deal at all.
Location: Bennington, Vermont
This liberal arts college in Vermont is bad news, especially when it comes to money. The school charges an outrageous $73,000 – per year.
Considering the number of debt students are left with after graduation compared with how much they earn per year on average, it's best to steer clear.
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
The numbers don’t add up for Guilford grads who spend nearly $37,000 per year on their education.
Cut to ten years after entry, and many still aren’t even making that much.
Florida Coastal School of Law
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Florida Coastal School of Law was founded in 1996, but it often finds itself in troubled waters. Its already shut down multiple campuses, and in 2017, it failed the Department of Education’s debt-to-income ratio test, one of just two local law schools to do so.
They’ve also been cited by the American Bar Association for being “significantly out of compliance.”
The University of North Alabama
Location: Florence, Alabama
This is yet another one of those schools that have made FIRE’s top 10 list of the worst in the country for free speech, and it’s easy to see why.
The administration removed the student newspaper adviser after he published a story making unwanted inquiries about a certain situation on campus. The school also has a shady public relations policy in place which claims any interaction with the media by faculty must first be approved by admin officials.
Location: Saratoga Springs, New York
Skidmore College could be worse. After all, they do have a graduation rate of over 89%. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have their issues.
In this school’s case, they made the list because of their annual cost of attendance compared to average annual earnings ten years after the fact. They charge over $50,000 per year to earn about $46,000.
St. Augustine’s University
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh has made several worst school lists over the past several years. They have a low graduation rate at just 28%, along with a high default rate on loans.
And, in 2016, the school’s accreditation status came under fire as they were put on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.
Montserrat College of Art
Location Beverly, Massachusetts
This small art school outside of Boston only sees around 400 students per year in its halls.
That’s probably because most people are running away from paying over $42,000 in annual tuition for a -$100,000 return on their investment.
Location: Sumter, SC
Morris College seems to take more than it gives from its students and graduates. They have made several lists of the worst schools in the country for multiple reasons. One is its 29% graduation rate.
But perhaps even worse than that is its median salary for graduates, which is just $32,000. Compare that to the average debt of $26,000, and it's easy to see why they keep getting called out.
College of Wooster
Location: Wooster, Ohio
Including the costs of living, students shelled out more than $64,000 last year.
The degrees from this school, located in Wooster, Ohio, hardly seem worth the massive amount of debt graduates are left with.
Location: Ashland, Wisconsin
The worst part about Northland is its graduate’s ten-year salary - $37,400. That’s low no matter which four-year school you graduate from.
And with an annual cost of around $36,183, it doesn’t seem like a very good investment. Their graduation rate also sits at a low 46%.
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Everest College, which was headed up by the parent company Corinthian Colleges, shut down most of its campuses in 2016 after its reputation was tarnished by its “worthless” diplomas. Graduates complained of not being able to find jobs and no one taking their credentials seriously.
Everest was bought out, and the remaining campuses go by the name Altierus Career College.
California State University
Location: Los Angeles, California
This is California State’s second appearance on their list, but this time, it’s for school in L.A. If you’re looking for low-cost options, they do have tuition that winds up costing most students less than $4,000 per year after aid.
Unfortunately, only 41% of those students wind up completing their programs on time.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Location: Eastern New York
Rensselaer makes the list as one of the worst schools in America for its blatant restriction of its student’s ability to maintain their right to free speech.
In fact, they consistently find themselves making lists for the top ten worst in the US for exactly that reason.
College of the Atlantic
Location: Bar Harbor, Maine
This school has an absolutely stunning campus, located right on the water – but they don’t make it very affordable to have the privilege.
In fact, they charge over $43,000 per year on average, which looks even worse when you consider graduates have a median salary of less than $25,000 ten years after entry.
The State University of New York
Location: Potsdam, New York
The State University of New York at Potsdam isn’t all bad. They’ve got a 72% acceptance rate and a 54% graduation rate, which is definitely better than a lot of other schools on the list.
They’re on the list because those who do graduate from SUNY wind up with a ridiculous amount of debt for little payoff. So, unless you’re looking for an ROI of more than -$30,000 – stay away from this school.
Location: Goshen, Indiana
This college is located in a small town outside of South Bend, Indiana.
A degree from Goshen will cost you nearly $160,000, and don’t expect your ROI to be sufficient, either, as it averages around -$30,000.
Pacific Oaks College
Location: Pasadena, California
Pacific Oaks doesn’t exactly have a fantastic reputation among those who’ve attended in the past. In fact, the consensus on Yelp is a whopping two and a half stars.
And the experiences some say they’ve had don’t seem fitting of the way you’d expect to be treated when you’re paying nearly $18,000/year.
Peru State College
Location: Peru, Nebraska
Well, considering you’ve seen graduation rates that aren’t even at 10%, Peru State College’s 36.7% isn’t exactly horrendous. Though it’s definitely not good by very many standards, either. Six years after the fact, the average salary a Peru State alumnus can expect to receive is around $37,000.
When you put that up against the median loan debt of nearly $23,000, it’s safe to say there are much better options available.
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Herzing University in Madison can be considered one of the best of the worst. Sure, it’s made its way onto this list, but it still isn’t as bad as some of these schools. The graduation rate is just a little above 42%, which is lower than the national average but much higher than those in the single digits or even in the teens and twenties.
The average loan debt for Herzing grads is higher than usual at over $32,000.
Location: Crete, Nebraska
There are a few reasons to reconsider attending this university in Nebraska. The first is that they’ve made the top ten lists of the worst schools in the country for free speech.
Their expensive tuition and 60% graduation rate aren’t great, either.
Location: Northfield, Minnesota
Carleton College is selective, accepting just 22% of students who apply to attend.
The academic program isn’t what put this school on our list, however, but rather the fact that it’s super expensive at more than $50,000 per year.
Location: Garland, Texas
Remington College in Texas is known for its shady recruiting practices.
An investigation by ABC revealed taking on felons as students and telling them they could get jobs in criminal justice – when that’s not the case.
Location: Talladega, Alabama
Talladega College may have one of the best marching bands in the country, but unless you plan on making a career out of band, consider the return on your investment for a moment.
And currently, that averages around -$156,000.
Emory & Henry College
Location: Emory, Virginia
There are a few reasons Emory & Henry College has landed on this list.
The first is the fact it costs around $180,000 to earn your four-year degree. The school also has a low graduation rate at just over 47%.
Location: Fairfield, Alabama
Miles College has some serious issues it needs to address. Perhaps the one that’s most pressing is the pitiful 20% graduation rate.
The ROI for attending is also around -$164,000. Yikes!
Location: Claremont, California
Buyer, beware before you throw your money at a degree from Scripps College in California. Their median salary of around $54,000 at 10 years after entry doesn’t seem so bad.
At least, not until you compare it to the $55,000 average cost to attend.
Location: Bonifacius, Minnesota
You could choose a much worse school than Crown College in Minnesota, that’s for sure, but they also aren’t without their issues. Take, for instance, the average salary of an alum who’s been out of school for six years: $35,000.
That may be a good starting salary, but for someone who’s had a degree and been working for several years in their professional field, it’s not terrific. The good news is that Crown College accepts over 55% of applicants, and they offer some pretty good online programs.
Location: Mt. Vernon, Georgia
To say Mt. Vernon, the location of this school in Georgia is a college town is an understatement.
Although it’s also a small town of around 2,500 people – and half of them attend this school. If that doesn’t turn you off, maybe the -$92,000 ROI will.
The University of Maine at Machias
Location: Machias, Maine
This Northern school’s acronym spells “umm,” which probably isn’t a great sign, nor is the 31% graduation rate.
But maybe it saves some people from having to drop nearly $125,000 for a degree for a return on investment of around -$70,000.
Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Ten years after entry into Kalamazoo, 82% of students who graduate will find themselves earning around $48,700.
When you compare that to the average yearly tuition of $48,516, it seems like the ROI on this program is less than desirable.
Location: New York, New York
Trump University was launched in 2005 and aimed at adults who were ready to make a difference in their lives by learning the ins and outs of real estate from someone they thought they could trust.
But the institution was troubled from the very beginning, starting with the fact it used “university” in its name without obtaining a license from the New York State Education Department. The “school” wound up being shut down and paying out more than $25 million to those who were duped by the operation.
Western International University
Location: Tempe, Arizona
This college, located just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, has one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation, at an astonishingly low three percent. The school has also lowered its prices pretty drastically over the past few years.
Now, they’re one of the more affordable schools in the area. And, according to their website and some former students, they don’t charge for books, either.
The University of South Carolina at Aiken
Location: Aiken, South Carolina
None of the numbers look very good at this school in South Carolina, at least, not the 41% graduation rate or the $41,000 median income. Pair that with the average annual cost of $18,500, and it seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Plus, if you’re looking for a school with any hint of party life – this is not it, as it's basically situated in a retirement community. Then again, if you’re looking for a super quiet place to earn your degree, this actually may work for you.
University of California, Santa Barbara
Location: Santa Barbara, California
This is the second appearance of the University of California on our list of worst colleges in the country. But this time, it’s their Santa Barbara campus that’s in question.
And why? Because this school is listed as number one of the most dangerous schools in the U.S., thanks to its high crime rate. It may be dangerous, but they do have a stunning campus.
University Of Alaska Anchorage
Alaska isn't exactly a place that is full of higher education options, but surprisingly, most of the colleges in Alaska are pretty good. Not the University of Alaska Anchorage, though. Not only is the tuition at this university very high, but there's also a pretty low graduation rate — 31%.
Add this to the fact that most graduates only pay back 12% of their loans in the first three years after graduation, and you get a very bad college.
Black Hills State University
Location: South Dakota
If you are looking to default on your loans, this might the University for you. 9.3% of graduates find themselves in that position. With a graduation rate of 33%, over 60% of the students drop out without completing their degrees.
The questionable experience of attending this college is still very expensive, costing at around $18,723 for an instate student per year.
Location: Dover, Delaware
This College was so bad that has ceased existing. It used to be a liberal arts college, but in 2021 it was bought by Delaware State University. It was more costly than any other college in the state, and the students who got to graduate, only 31% if you care to know, left with a debt of over $30,000.
It's not a surprise that the college ended up being purchased and closed down.
University of the Southwest
Location: New Mexico
If you thought that 30% is a bad graduation rate, wait till you hear about this University's rate: 16%. Yes, 84% of those who start attending this college drop out, and they usually do so with over $23,000 in debt.
If the odds were ever against anyone, it sounds like they were against any poor student who thought it might be a good idea to attend the University of the Southwest, New Mexico.
If you're thinking of attending a college or a university in Kansas, you have a lot of good options to check out, but Sterling is not one of these options.
Over 40% of the students never graduate, and those who do usually only make about $35,000 five years after graduating. Most of them leave school with almost $25,000 in student loan debt.
Philander Smith College
The good news about Philander Smith College is that, unlike many other schools on this list, it won't break the bank to attend it. On the other hand, the graduation rate isn't very promising, standing only at 39%.
The "lucky" few who do get to the finish line, leave the school with over $25,000 in debt, which they have a hard time paying, with an average salary of only $24,000.
Mitchell College has gained a reputation as one of the most overpriced schools in its region.
While the graduation rate itself is not bad, 46%, those who graduate don't usually make enough money to pay off their loans. Graduates finish with over $30,000 in student loan debt. To make matters worse, they only make about $32,000 six years after graduating, which doesn't really give them enough money to try and pay off these loans.
Lindsey Wilson College
Only 34% of the students who chose to matriculate at Lindsey Wilson College get to graduate. But don't consider them the lucky ones, as years after their graduation, they only make about an average of $28,800.
With student loan debts of about $20,563, graduates are off to a bad financial start. It's no surprise then that almost 10% of the former attendees default on their loans.
Alabama State University
Alabama State University isn't really giving its state any reason to be proud of it. It has the lowest graduation rate in the entire state — only 26% of students get to go to the graduation ceremony.
For that 26%, life after education is not all that great, six years after they graduate, they still only make an average of $27,000. It only makes sense that about 20% of them default on their loans.
Location: South Carolina
Here's a math problem for you college graduates out there, Benedict College charges its students only $914 which isn't nearly as bad as what other colleges charge.
Still, the poor students who graduate end up with an average of $45,000 in debt. How is that? We're not sure. We do know that 8% of former students have a hard time returning their loans, as they only make about $25,400 after graduation.
Nazarene Bible College
According to its website, the Nazarene Bible College is a Christian school committed to both academic and practical programs.
The reality is that with incredibly expensive tuition of $42,340 a year, this college is just not worth it. Only 16% graduate, and 12% of those can't return their loans. Their average income is only $29,700, which is a lot less than what they had to pay for a year of Nazarene Bible College.
Location: New Jersey
The good news is that out of the 30% of students who get to graduate from Bloomfield College, 92% find a job. So, what's so bad about this New Jersey College?
While the average earnings of the students who finish school are over $38,000, almost 15% of them still have a hard time paying their loans on time.
College of New Rochelle
Location: New York
How did the College of New Rochelle get a reputation for being one of the worst in the country? Well, despite the fact that New Rochelle graduates usually have an income of about $40,000, only 29% of those who attend get to graduate.
Those who do usually have about $30,000 in debt. More than 10% of them can't seem to manage to pay their loans on time.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
If almost anyone who applies gets accepted, that's almost always a bad sign. That's just the case at Yeshivas Novominsk in Brooklyn — they have a 95% acceptance rate.
Then, only 2% of those who get in actually leave with a degree, and 98% of the students drop out before that. The school has such a bad reputation that it even earned itself the name "The dropout factory." Yikes.