How This Works

Field Of Study Data

The main data sets featured are supplied by the Department of Education (ED), specifically the “Data by Field of Study” product, to gather information on the average earnings, debt (Stafford Loans only), and potential monthly payments for different majors. This data is funneled as: School > Degree Type > Major. This application uses data related to bachelor’s degrees only. Earnings data is provided one year and two years post-graduation. If both numbers are present, a weighted average of the two is used (66% = two years post-graduation; 34% = one year post-graduation). ED’s College Scorecard dataset was used to obtain additional school information.

Possible monthly payment is calculated in one of two ways: 1) When Department of Education data is available, payments are based on median cumulative loan debt over a 10-year term using either 2.75% or 5.30% interest rate depending on the type of loan. 2) When Department of Education data is not available, payments are based on proxy debt data from similar programs over a 10-year term using a 4.50% interest rate.

Occupation Wage Data

All wage data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), specifically the “Wage Data by Metropolitan Area” data set.

Cost Of Living Data

Cost of Living data was calculated on a monthly level for each metropolitan statistical area (MSA) by multiplying the national average monthly expenditure for a single-person household in 2020 from the BLS (a value of 100) with the Cost of Living Index for each MSA.