First of all, Congrats to all that have done so on getting in. And Good Luck to those still waiting!

Here is my rather common situation: I've been accepted at a number of schools, with a few scholarship offers. This of course leads to a difficult decision process. I came up with an objective approach, based on quantitative cost/benefit calculation. Fortunately, MS Excel did all the math for me

I thought I'd share it with y'all. Hopefully someone may find it helpful.

Essentially what I did was to create a spreadsheet that factored in (tuition+fees+books+plus COLA in the area)-scholarship offers=cost. I used the cnn money websites COLA calculator and assumed 22k Chicago dollars in living expenses over the year, and adjusted that to each region.

For benefit, I just used the average graduate salary of the respective school times 3 years. I did this to get a 1-1 comparision, since the expentiture side is 3 years. Then, to determine the return, I simply divided cost/benefit. The results are somewhat surprising. Tulane, at the moment, is in the lead with an expected return of 179% The shocker was my safety school, UNLV (assuming in-state tuition 2-3L) would return 178% UCDavis, because of it high cost and very high COLA, would yield a miserable 4%

If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to share the spreadsheet, which you can obviously use as a starting point for your own particular situation. I also welcome any criticism or potential enhancements for this metric. I realize it doesn't take into account the subjective aspects, but I think it is valuable because it helps quantify them in way. for example, it becomes easier to weigh "nice weather" or "good professor," because you can ask "is good weather worth 20%?"