Altonji and Zimmerman reviewed publicly available information on the costs of producing graduates in various fields from the Florida state system of 12 four-year universities for the 1999–2000 through 2013–14 academic years. They also analyzed administrative records of educational and early-career outcomes for 57,711 high-school graduates who enrolled in the state university system in the year after their high-school graduations. The researchers tracked the earnings of those who remained in Florida through early 2010, when the oldest students in the sample were 32 years old, and the youngest were 26.
The degrees that performed best in early-career salaries, on a per-dollar cost basis, were business and computer science, the researchers find. Graduates from these fields in their first years out of college earned 60–80 percent more than students with education degrees, who served as a baseline. It was also relatively cheap for schools to educate business and computer-science majors: it cost a university in the Florida state system an average of $31,482 to provide a business degree, compared with $62,297 for engineering, the most expensive major. The average total degree cost was $39,184, including student payments and state appropriations.