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New study shows going to college pays off


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Earning a degree can be expensive, but a new study from the Pew Research Center found that it may be more costly not to go to college. The research shows that the income gap between college graduates and those with only a high school education is growing, and more individuals believe that higher education is worth the cost.

College degrees lead to higher salaries
According to the report, titled "The Rising Cost of Not Going to College," recent college graduates, specifically those between 25 and 32, earn more on average than their peers with only a high school diploma. The research found that these college graduates, employed full-time, make about $17,500 more annually than individuals with only a secondary education. This gap in pay is significantly larger than the gap experienced by similar demographics in past generations.

While many students choose to start their college education by attaining a two-year or associates degree, it is the bachelor's degree that results in the sizeable income difference. According to the study, those with an associate's degree or some college earned, on average, $30,000 per year compared to $28,000 annual income of those with only a high school diploma.

Graduates say the experience is worthwhile
Overall, college graduates with a four-year degree say their experience with higher education was a worthwhile one. About 9 in 10 individuals reported that their degree was worth the investment, and it is not just because of the larger salaries. People with at least a bachelor's degree are more likely to be satisfied with their current position and believe their education was very useful in preparing them for a job. Additionally, these graduates are more likely to say they have the training and academic background needed to succeed in their field.

While many of the benefits of earning a college degree are related to one's financial well-being, they study found that there are other advantages. College graduates are significantly less likely to be living in poverty or residing in their parent's home, the report found.

Even among college graduates, the rate of employment and salary levels differed significantly depending on factors such as location, field of study, and previous work experience. However, even with those variables, those who invest the time and money to secure a degree may be securing their future as well.

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