Making the decision to attend college can be a worthwhile step for many, but with increasing tuition prices, prospective students may be looking at the longterm advantages of the investment. Now, thanks to a new CNBC ranking, those looking to attend a university in the fall of 2020 can have a clearer answer if they find themselves wondering which institutions are worth the cost.

In order to determine the ranking for CNBC's annual "50 Colleges that Pay Off the Most" list, the highest average salaries compared to tuition dollars were examined. To make the assessment, the publication "divided the average net cost of a school for the average American student (taking tuition, fees, books, supplies and scholarships into account) by the average earnings of graduates 10 years after entering the workforce."

The average net costs were calculated using data provided by Tuition Tracker and PayScale’s College Salary Report was used to acquire average earnings data.

Leading the list of private colleges and universities that have the best return on investment in 2020 is Stanford University. According to The Hechinger Report, an education-focused nonprofit news organization, the net cost for a family earning between $48,001 and $75,000 is $3,490 per year. Due to the fact that 51% of Stanford students major in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field, post-graduation salaries tend to run a bit higher as well, according to Payscale.

Following Stanford on the "50 Colleges that Pay Off the Most" ranking is Harvard University, University of Chicago, and Princeton University.

As for public institutions, the University of Washington-Bothell landed in the No. 1 position, followed by CUNY Baruch College, and the University of Washington-Seattle.

Georgetown University
While schools like Georgetown University have sizeable endowments, smaller colleges could face financial ruin if enrollments drop because of the coronavirus crisis. AFP / SAUL LOEB