Return on investment: is college paying off?

Insane education costs are increasingly paid with huge student loans. And, high college drop-out rates together with a competitive job market means those loans are harder to pay off than ever.

Many are asking: does a college degree have a reasonable return-on-investment?

The Wall Street Journal interviewed several education-policy experts each of whom had interesting perspectives:

Sandy Baum, George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Labor-market economists report that the demand for people with college degrees has grown more quickly than the supply. On average, men with some college but no degree make 22% more than men with only a high school degree. On average, men with a college degree earn almost twice what men earn with only a high school degree.

Eventually most people should be able to repay students loans and still enjoy a higher standard of living that would otherwise have been out of reach.

James O’Neill, co-founder of the Thiel Foundation’s 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship

Education can come from reading books, hearing lectures, and from engaging in interesting debates. Technology makes these forms of learning more affordable and accessible–and no student loans are needed. 

Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity

Do college degree-earners make more money because they’re more disciplined, smarter and more dependable than high school graduates? And, do those traits need a piece of paper for validation?

Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford University’s Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance

Education provides a foundation for growth over a lifetime. And, educating only a subset of our population means we will pick winners while they are in high school. Would you want your children to be on the list that doesn’t get educated?

Poor and disadvantaged groups in the U.S. get inferior education. Because their schooling is bad, we would exclude them from the American dream.

Read more here from the WSJ.

Interested in the ROI for the school you’re considering? Or enrolled in? Or paying for? Geek out on the numbers here.

Is ROI the best indicator of the worth of a college degree? Let’s debate it here.


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