Earnings Gap Narrows, But College Education Still Pays, Report Says

Career College Central summary:

  • The earnings gap between young college graduates and their peers with only high-school diplomas has narrowed slightly in recent years, but adults with bachelor's degrees still make significantly more over their careers, according to a report released on Monday by the College Board.
  • The expansive triennial report, "Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society," examines the value of college in both financial and nonfinancial terms. The goal is to "call attention to ways in which both individuals and society as a whole benefit from increased levels of education," the authors write.
  • Debate over the return on investment of higher education—and whether such a tally is the right way to determine its value—has intensified as tuition has risen faster than family income. And research on the extent to which graduates come out ahead is a complex, charged exercise. The College Board has faced criticism in the past for overstating the benefits of a degree, but this report is about data, not advocacy, Sandy Baum, one of its authors, has argued.
  • According to the new report, for college graduates entering the work force, the immediate payoff has slipped a bit. In 2008, males ages 25 to 34 with bachelor's degrees made 74 percent more in median earnings than did high-school graduates in the same age range; the figure was 79 percent for women. In 2011, however, the difference was only 69 percent for men and 70 percent for women, the report says.

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