College is important to many people, but most of all, it can provide an opportunity for students to break the cycle of poverty or financial difficulties in their families. In many ways, higher education and earning a degree can open many job opportunities for hard-working students. Once these students graduate from school, their degree and experience can give them a chance to eventually earn a higher salary and ultimately live a more comfortable life than those before them. If this is something that's really important for you when it comes to choosing the right college, perhaps take the time to apply to a small school in which graduates from lower-income families have the ability to outearn graduates from higher-income families. All that extra attention you'll be able to get in school may help you land a job with an excellent salary.

Here are 20 colleges you may want to consider applying to this year. To learn more about our methodology and rankings, read our study Small Colleges Where Graduates From Lower-Income Families Outearn Graduates From Higher-Income Families.

1. Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University made headlines in 2016 because its graduates reportedly made more money than graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school. If you're wondering how much that is, you'll be interested to learn that graduates from this school reportedly earned $86,300 as an average salary. While Pennsylvania is certainly known for having a plethora of popular colleges and universities, Thomas Jefferson University may be one that's often overlooked. However, with 7,800 students and a 95 percent rate of undergraduate job success and graduate school placement rate, this may be the school for you.

2. University of Nebraska Medical Center

Graduates of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln reported making an average of $64,000 for their yearly salary, while graduates of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln campus at the mid-career level reported making an average of $94,400 a year, according to payscale.com. That being said, this is only referring to this specific campus and not necessarily the University of Nebraska Medical Center. There is no specific information on what graduates of the University of Nebraska Medical Center earned. This is a small school which had only 3,970 students enrolled in the fall of 2018, making it a great option if you want more one-on-one attention.

3. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans

While LSU may be a rather large school that's well-known across the country, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans, commonly referred to as "LSU Health Sciences," is actually a very small branch of LSU. This school only had 733 applicants from the state of Louisiana in 2017, yet according to PayScale, these graduates, who likely come from more lower-income families than out-of-state residents, contribute to the overall average salary of total graduates at $73,000 a year.

4. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Graduates of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have reported earning a very high average salary of $91,000 a year. This may be because most of the school's graduates will go directly into the medical field, which is no doubt a high-paying field in which to work. If you want to go to school in the Lone Star state and have a chance at earning a lot of money from your degree and experience, consider applying to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

5. Loma Linda University

Those who successfully earned their degree by graduating from Loma Linda University have reported earning an average salary of $78,000 a year. Loma Linda University is located in southern California and has a little over 4,400 students enrolled, making it quite a small school. Despite its size, though, the school offers many programs in health care, with graduates going on to become pharmacists, dentists, nurses, doctors or professionals in other similar fields.

6. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, also commonly referred to as "TTUHSC," is a small school located in Lubbock, Texas that prides itself on achieving excellence in patient care, learning and scientific contributions. Graduates of this school report earning an average salary of $84,000 a year, according to PayScale. Like many other schools that offer programs in the health sciences, graduates of Texas Tech tend to earn a comfortable living after securing a job in the medical field.

7. Georgetown University

Georgetown University certainly has a reputation for being one of the best schools as well as one of the most expensive schools in the country. It's also known for being quite small, with only 4,523 students enrolled in the fall semester of 2016. Located in the nation's capital in Washington, D.C., graduates of this university report earning $74,000 as their average salary, and alumni at the mid-career level report earning an average of $140,300 as their salary, thereby making a fairly good return on investment.

8. University of Maryland, Baltimore

The University of Maryland, Baltimore is not to be confused with the University of Maryland, College Park. This branch of the school only has around 6,700 students enrolled, yet the school offers programs in public health, law and human services, which are programs that generally coincide with high-paid professions. While there is no specific information regarding average salaries for graduates of this university, according to PayScale, students who graduated with a Bachelor of Science from UMBC earned $73,695 on average, while students who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from UMBC earned $55,932 on average.

9. Yeshiva University

Graduates from Yeshiva University, located in New York City, come from all kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds. This does not matter, however. Graduates reported earning $71,000 as their average yearly salary, according to PayScale. Those at the mid-career level report earning an average of $122,300, which is an amount that allows you to live quite comfortably. In the 2016 to 2017 school year, there were close to 900 freshmen who were admitted to the school, which indicates that Yeshiva University is quite a small school indeed.

10. Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr College is known for some notable alumni, like Katherine Hepburn, who undoubtedly earned more money than many of her peers despite her difficult childhood. It likely was not hard for her to stick out at this school, as the college is very small, with only 1,334 undergraduates enrolled in 2017. Like Hepburn, graduates of Bryn Mawr College shouldn't have to worry about money after graduation, even if they don't become actors. This is because alumni from Bryn Mawr College reported making $60,000 as an average salary, according to PayScale.

11. University of New England

There are many well-known colleges and universities in the New England region of the United States, particularly Ivy League schools. However, those who don't come from an Ivy League background can still get their opportunity to earn a high salary by attending a school like the University of New England, located in Maine. Graduates of this tiny school, containing only 2,377 undergraduates in fall 2017, reported earning an average salary of $64,000, according to PayScale.

12. University of Rochester

According to PayScale, graduates of the University of Rochester in New York reported earning $76,000 as their average salary. Those at the mid-career level earned an average salary of $116,200. The University of Rochester is bigger than most small schools, with nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled. With 200 academic majors being offered there, it's surely a way for students from a low-income background to be successful in an area they enjoy.

13. Johns Hopkins University

Graduates of Johns Hopkins University are some of the highest paid out of the smaller schools in the United States, earning an average salary of $106,000 a year, according to Emolument.com. Located in Baltimore, this school is home to 5,407 undergraduate students as of the 2017 to 2018 school year, with the class population representing the 50 states and 57 countries.

14. Dartmouth College

Most people have heard of Dartmouth College, as this Ivy League school is one of the most well-known in the country for its academics and history. However, it's also a great school for those who want to make a nice living after obtaining their degree. Graduates from this school earn $82,000, with those at the mid-career level making an average of $150,800. In the fall of 2017, there were 6,509 undergraduate and graduate students combined.

15. Emory University

Emory University, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is larger than other small schools, with 15,252 enrolled students in fall 2017. Graduates from Emory earned an average of $70,000 for their yearly salary, according to PayScale. Mid-career level professionals reported earning an average salary of $117,800. This is one of the top universities in terms of return on investment, which is great news for those who come from a low-income background and are struggling to pay for college.

16. Stanford University

While Stanford University isn't considered an Ivy League school, it may as well be up there with the others. Graduates of Stanford University reported earning an average salary of well over $100,000. While the numbers aren't entirely accurate, Emolument.com reports that the number is closer to $130,000. That's not too bad for a school that had 7,056 undergraduate students and 7,965 graduate students in the 2017 to 2018 year.

17. Illinois Institute of Technology

The Illinois Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as IIT, is a very small school with 610 students enrolled at the start of the fall 2018 semester. That was much higher than the number of students enrolled in 2017. This school is a great option if you're someone who wants to have a better future for yourself financially, as graduates from here reported making $78,000 as their average salary, according to PayScale. Many students went on to have positions as software engineers, mechanical engineers and project engineers, which are professions that bring in a lot of money.

18. Marquette University

Though the University of Wisconsin may be the most popular school in this state, it may not be ideal for those who want a big return on investment after graduation. Marquette University is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and graduates have reported salaries of $70,000 on average, according to PayScale. At a small school of just 11,426 students as of fall 2017, it'll be easy to find your niche here and make valuable connections to help you succeed.

19. University of Chicago

Chicago is home to many colleges and universities, but the University of Chicago is a great choice if you're interested in outearning your peers who come from higher-income backgrounds. That's because graduates of the University of Chicago reported an average salary of $72,000, with those at the mid-career level earning an average of $123,800, according to PayScale.

20. University of Minnesota Duluth

Another school to which you should consider applying is the University of Minnesota Duluth, often referred to as UMD, though not to be confused with the University of Maryland, which goes by the same acronym. In 2017, the school had 11,168 students enrolled, many of whom were residents of the state of Minnesota. Best of all, graduates from this school reported an average salary of $62,000, with the highest-earning graduates having engineering-related jobs, according to PayScale.

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About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.