Spokane Journal of Business

Gonzaga University graduates said to be highest paid 10 years after attending school

Online search tool lists data on salary, costs, debt

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Gonzaga University alumni lead all other Eastern Washington and northern Idaho colleges in average earnings 10 years after graduating from their respective schools, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s online tool College Scorecard.

College Scorecard lists the national median salary 10 years after entering school at $34,343. Looking at a list of six Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho four-year universities, Gonzaga alumni were estimated to earn average annual income of $52,800 a decade after graduation.

Washington State University was second at $46,000 followed by Whitworth University at $41,200. Eastern Washington University ranked fourth, with graduates earning $40,500. University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College rounded out the list with graduates earning $39,900 and $32,700, respectively. 

Gonzaga’s dean of admissions, Julie McCulloh, says she believes the university’s high ranking is due to the extra effort it has put into its career and professional development program services, which include programs such as the Gonzaga Alumni Mentor Program.

“We think it’s important to help students get exposure to real work experience in addition to what they’re working on in the classroom,” says McCulloh.

Also, Gonzaga’s alumni network was ranked 13th best in the nation this year by the Princeton Review, she says.

“We have an excellent group of alumni willing to mentor students and graduates, providing them with a network that can result in increased job opportunities,” McCulloh says. 

On a list of five Inland Northwest two-year institutions, ITT Technical Institute ranked first in highest salary for graduates at $42,500. Moses Lake-based Big Bend Community College and Spokane Community College ranked second and third, with graduates earning $32,200 and $30,600, respectively. Ranking fourth and fifth were North Idaho College at $29,000 and Spokane Falls Community College at $28,300. 

Another factor College Scorecard includes is the estimated annual cost of attending each school, listing the national average as $16,800. The site lists average annual cost for each school as the cost after financial aid from the state, federal government, or the school. For public schools, that figure is the average cost for in-state students only.

Being the only two private schools of the six colleges listed, Gonzaga and Whitworth also had the highest average annual tuition and fees, at $28,100 and $24,400, respectively. WSU came in third at $16,800 in annual costs. University of Idaho ranked fourth at $13,051 and EWU and Lewis-Clark State College ranked fifth and sixth at $13,000 and $12,100, respectively. 

Among the area’s two-year colleges, ITT Technical Institute had the highest average annual cost at $23,100, followed by North Idaho College at $9,600, Spokane Falls Community College at $7,400, Big Bend Community College at $6,600, and Spokane Community College at $5,400.

College Scorecard also lists estimated median federal loan debt for individuals attending each school. However, debt included in the data only pertains to federal debt. Students might still have private loans that don’t have income-based repayment plans and are allowed to charge larger monthly payments. 

In the rankings for typical total debt of borrowers who complete college, GU and Whitworth once again topped the list at $27,000 and $26,000, respectively. University of Idaho came in third, with average total debt for borrowers at $25,000. Rounding out the list were Lewis-Clark State College at $22,200, WSU at 21,000, and EWU at $20,500. 

Of the five listed two-year colleges, ITT Technical Institute ranked first, with total average debt for borrowers completing college listed at $27,800. The rest of the rankings in order were Spokane Community College with average borrower debt listed at $16,100, North Idaho College at $15,800, Big Bend Community College at $11,900, and Spokane Community College at $11,000. 

The Department of Education says on the College Scorecard website that it developed the interactive online tool to help students and families search for information to help them choose a college that is best-suited to their needs.

Users can search for schools based on location, size, campus setting, and degrees and major programs offered. 

LeAnn Bjerken
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Reporter LeAnn Bjerken covers health care at the Journal of Business. A Minnesota native and cat lover, she enjoys beachside vacations and writing poetry. LeAnn has worked for the Journal since 2015.

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