College Degrees Still Worth the Investment?

by Amanda Greisman

College is thought to provide opportunities for graduates not available to those not pursuing higher education. However, the increases in the price of college and the decline in wages for those with degrees are making people question the importance of college and if it really is worth the investment.

Mary Beth Marklein argues that a college degree is still worth the investment. One point was that college graduates, whether they earn a bachelor’s degree or an associates degree, will still tend to earn more money over their lifetime versus those who do not go to college, information found based on 4 decades of analysis. And even though wages have declined for those who have earned college degrees, they have also declined for those who did not receive a college education, and the gap between the two is still at an all time high, with those people who earned college degrees earning much more money in their occupations.

Another point made was that even though student loan debt has soared by the end of 2013, a federal reserve study on data of wages for ages 16-64 for those without a degree, with an associates, and with a bachelors had shown that those with a bachelors degree have kept a return on investment of 15%, where 7% return is sound. This proves that even with student debt rising, the return on investment proves the investment is definitely worth it. Majors were also found to play a role on the returns of investment, where some majors can earn a return of 21%.

Some facts stated in the article were that over 4 decades, a bachelors degree will earn an average of about 56% more than a high school diploma and an associates will earn 21% more. However, studies have shown that the earnings of bachelors and associates degrees over high school diplomas has decreased from where they were in the years 1982-2001 to 2001-2013. Along with this statistic, the wages have declined over these same time spans. So the question is, even though those with a bachelors or associates degree do tend to make more money, is this decline in wage and earnings a permanent reversal in the demand of college graduate’s skills, or is it just a phase that will pass?

Marklein, M. College Degree Still Worth the Investment, Data Suggest. USA Today. Retrieved on October 5, 2014

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