Home News Ignore the Hype. College Is Worth It – Inside Higher Ed

Ignore the Hype. College Is Worth It – Inside Higher Ed


Improvements are certainly long overdue in the way higher education institutions operate, writes Anthony P. Carnevale, but the value of a college degree in the workplace is without question.

With college costs and student loan debts continuing to rise, we have seen an increase in the number of studies and articles questioning whether college is worth it. And yet most of the evidence points to college becoming more valuable, not less.

The latest round of questioning college value was set off by a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, called “Is College Still Worth It? The New Calculus of Falling Returns.” It spurred, among other articles, a piece from Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary, similarly titled: “Is college worth it? Read this study.”

The answer is in the study. That answer is yes. The study shows that the median income for families led by a bachelor’s-degree recipient is more than 100 percent greater than the median income for families not led by degree recipients. One hundred percent! In our research, we use a different measure of the college wage premium and find that it in 2017, it was 71 percent, its highest point dating back to when this statistic was first measured, in 1970. The premium is 10 percentage points higher than it was a decade earlier.

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