Blog Post

College is a Bargain for Students and Society: Rsp to the New York Times

  • "According to the O.E.C.D., [federal, state, and municipal governments] make a profit of $231,000 on each American who graduates from college--mostly through higher income taxes and lower unemployment benefits."


  • "According to the OECD's report, a college degree is worth $365,000 for the average American man after subtracting all its direct and indirect costs over a lifetime.  For women--who still tend to earn less than men--it's worth $185,000."     That's profit, folks.


Both of those figures must be put against the "financial albatross" label that is currently the prevailing one.   They are reported on in an excellent article by Eduardo Porter, "Dropping Out of College, and Paying the Price" in the June 26, 2013 New York Times.   Porter looks at the way college graduate ates in the U.S. are continuing to slip, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  The U.S. now ranks 11th in college graduation rates in the world.  

The report suggests that this contibutes to the radical income separation of the wealthy and the lower economic groups in America.   According to the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institute (also reported on in Porter's excellent piece),  "inequities in education are hampering social and economic mobility, contributing to entrenched income inequality."   50% of Americans in the top fourth of the income distribution are college graduates.   Among the poorest fourth, only 10% graduated from college.

Stanford Professor Eric Hanushek has argued that part of this social inequality comes from subsidizing with scholarships only those who make it to college--the real inequality has already been entrenched long before.   And another study by Stanford's Caroline Hoxby and UVA's Sarah Turner suggests that only $6 investment in personalized counselling on college options would greatly increase the number of high achieving, low income students in college, as would defering all loans until after the student was in paying job.  

If you are intersted in the future of higher education, I urge you to read Porter's excellent article and follow the links through to these studies.   There are solutions out there---and one of them is wise investment by our society in our own future.  




Yesterday, Ed Markey became the next Massachusetts senator. His campaign was primarily against his opponent, Gomez, whose campaign was - not astonishingly - against Markey. Neither campaigned in favor of anything.

And this in a state which hosts more college students than any other. And where most of those students register at home rather than in Massachusetts. And where most have a sense that "the government" is not interested in them. And, finally, where the average graduate faces a $1000/year penalty for that naivete, starting next week!

When the federal government pays 1% for the money it guarantees at 3% and next week will increase the rate to 6% (for some, while, for vocational fields, the interest will jump from 10.4% to over 20%!), there is a system seriously "broken," and when neither the press nor the politicians bother even asking how, why, or what options might exist, that shows that solutions are not their concern.

Higher education loans are, in fact, safe investments, or were until this Sequester byproduct. But why were there no colleges, students, admissions or graduates raising holy hell while these two candidates exchanged insults rather than address a huge, local, and national problem?


Anonymous (not verified)
“$231,000” is a huge figure and specially if we are quoting it for an individual…that explains why senate has risen the student loans to double and why an average American is now more interested to buy a degree online rather to go for traditional colleges and bear the burden of thousands of dollar..there are many new ways through students are getting educated since the tradional education is way too expensive and it is not possible for students to cope up with work and students…one such way is to opt for life experience degree accredited by authentic college….

Anonymous (not verified)

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