1.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology

best bang for buck colleges 01 MIT Cambridge
  • 20-year return on investment: $1,120,000
  • Total 4-year cost: $232,000

A college degree can burn a big hole in the pocket. So it's fair to question whether it's worth it.

But alumni from some colleges actually stand to earn A LOT more money than what they paid in total for a degree.

How much more? As much as $1.1 million over 20 years for MIT grads!

That's a higher return on investment than at any other college, according to a calculation from PayScale.

Related: Just how much is a college degree worth?

Many MIT grads land high-paying engineering and computer science jobs, not unlike those from other colleges that top this year's list. Schools that attract students who excel in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields continue to offer the best bang for your buck.

So the answer is: it's worth getting your pockets burnt, if you go to one of these top schools...

First published April 7, 2016: 7:15 AM ET
Source: PayScale
Based on survey data, PayScale calculated the total median pay for a school's undergraduate alumnus over a 20-year career and compared it to that of a high school graduate who worked for 24 years. It took the difference in pay and subtracted the cost of attending school to determine the return on investment in 2015 dollars. The cost of attendance included tuition, room and board, and books -- and adjusted to account for the average grant awarded to students. Alumni who went on to graduate school were excluded from the data.

Mortgage & Savings