Is a college degree still worth the cost?


WASHINGTON, D.C. – People with bachelor’s degrees, on average, currently earn about 66 percent more than those with a high school diploma, during their lifetime, and about 42 percent more than those with an associate degree, according to a new study by the College Board.
The College Board today, Sept. 21, released its 2010 edition of “Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society.” This is the third edition of the study, with the first two in 2004 and 2007.
The report also notes that people with college degrees are far less likely than others to experience unemployment or live in a poverty-level household.  (See charts below.)
“If it wasn’t clear before, it should be abundantly clear now that a college graduate is far more competitive in today’s workplace,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “What’s most disturbing is that noncollege graduates are losing ground on salary and employment, a trend that validates the soundness of an investment in a college education.”
The study documents a few of the benefits that individual students and society as a whole receive from investments in higher education.
In this edition, the College Board focused a considerable amount of its attention on the difficulties facing state and federal governments, students and families attempting to finance higher education in a weak economy. It also recognized that colleges and universities are facing challenges in trying to balance their budgets and help students continue their education.
The report illustrates some of the economic and non-economic gains resulting from higher education, as well as the forgone when educational opportunities are too limited — health outcomes, community involvement, and other life patterns.
“Education pays out more than dollars,” said Sandy Baum, an independent policy analyst for the College Board and co-author of all three Education Pays reports. “If you have a college degree, you are more likely to exercise, volunteer, vote and read to your kids, and less likely to be obese or smoke. According to the data, people’s level of education profoundly affects both the financial and nonfinancial aspects of their lives.”
The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board is composed of more than 5,700 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations.
See the full Education Pays 2010 report at the College Board website.