LEWISBURG — The Central Susquehanna LPN Career Center in Lewisburg ranked 33rd in the country among 4,500 colleges for return on investment (ROI), according to a Georgetown University report on higher education return on investment (ROI).
The study ranked the 52-year-old LPN Career Center, administered by the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU), based on net present value (NPV) at the 10-year earnings mark. NPV weighs the cost of investing in college now against the potential gains over time. In considering NPV with the LPN Career Center, there is a greater potential for a positive ROI 10 years after graduation. It also ranked seventh in Pennsylvania.
"That means, in current dollars, what you spend today in your education, what return you get in that over time," said Center Director Timothy Campbell. "It's based on one year paying the tuition and then you're making the salary for the other nine years. It's not saying four years are bad, but you're doing of four years of upfront expense and only have six years for that return in investment."
CSIU's Director of Outreach Bernadette Boerckel said prospective students and parents are questioning a college degree's worth. Tuition at LPN Career Center is approximately $20,000 and the average salary of an LPN is between $40,000 and $50,000 with nearly 100 percent placement rate after graduation, they said.
"Education costs are rising astronomically, but salaries are not," said Boerckel. "We're starting to ask for the first time something that hasn't been asked: what am I getting for this education? There was a time when a Bachelor's degree in anything meant a higher paying job when you leave and a higher salary. That's no longer the case."
Health care, especially nurses, are a high priority occupation, and LPN programs are now an initial step and bridge to a registered nurse, they said.
The Center has full-time and part-time programs and has approximately 120 students enrolled. Students receive classroom training and clinical practice at Geisinger, Evangelical Community Hospital, UPMC Susquehanna and four long-term care facilities, said Campbell.
The program has been located 1339 St. Mary St. for 10 years but was previously located in Sunbury.
Boerckel said the challenge is changing the thought that a four-year college is not the only pathway a high school student can take. There is insecurity for parents that their child won't succeed if they don't do the traditional college route, she said.
Jennifer Mabus, 46, of Millmont, completed the program in 2019 and was hired recently as a substitute nurse in the Mifflinburg Area School District. She went to college for office administration but gave up her career to raise children. Three years ago she started working again as a secretary at a home health agency.