The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

July 13, 2014

College education is wise investment

DANVILLE — I have been reading about the investment benefits of a college education. Is it still worth it? When all the costs and benefits are calculated, experts agree that, yes, “the benefits of both a bachelor’s degree and an associate’s degree still tend to outweigh the costs, with both degrees earning a return of about 15 percent over the past decade” (Abel and Deitz, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Current Issues in Economics and Finance, 2014). The Federal Reserve Bank’s newsletter isn’t on everyone’s weekly reading list, so I will share the findings outlined in the Abel and Deitz research.

In a nutshell, even factoring in increased costs and decreased average wages for college graduates as a result of the Great Recession and a slow recovery, “investing in a college education still appears to be a wise economic decision for the average person.” According to Abel and Dietz, a steady return of around 15 percent on the education investment was better than the average return on stocks and bonds. The authors’ research showed that stock investments yielded an annual return of 7 percent and bonds yielded around 3 percent annually since 1950 (Greenstone and Looney, 2011).

The true benefits of a college degree appear in lifetime earnings. “Despite entering the labor force at a later age, workers with a bachelor’s degree on average earn well over $1 million more than high school graduates during their working lives, while those with an associate’s degree earn about $325,000 more.”

According to Daly and Bengali in their article, “Is it Still Worth Going to College?”: “The average college graduate paying annual tuition of about $20,000 can recoup the costs of schooling by age 40.” Factor in the reduced cost of education received at a community college like DACC — either toward an associate’s degree or an advanced degree — and the graduate recoups those costs much sooner.

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