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College: Still a Great Investment

by Kimberly Rios '13

As the nation’s economy stagnates, and unemployment rates remain high, many are asking, “Is college really a good investment?”

A recent study reported by the Los Angeles Times, and conducted by the Brookings Institute, declares that college is not only worth it, but that it will most likely be the best investment a person makes in his or her lifetime. Those with a college degree, on average, fare better in the job market during the country’s recession. College graduates also make more money annually than those who skipped higher education.

Researchers Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney examined the “Class of the Great Recession,” those who graduated from college between 2008-10. The study concluded that 90 percent of those students held employment in 2010, as opposed to only 64 percent of their peers that did not attend college. In addition, college graduates made nearly double the annual income of those who only had a high school education. Research shows that a college graduate earns about $46,500 more per year than a high school graduate.

The study also examined the benefits of a college degree by analyzing it in terms of the rate of return, comparing it to other major investments, such as the stock market or savings bonds. By adding the cost of tuition, housing, books, and accounting for unearned wages during matriculation, it was determined that a four-year degree had a rate of return of 15.2 percent per year. According to the Los Angeles Times article, this is more than double the average rate of return in the stock market (6.8 percent), and more than five times the average rate of return in corporate bonds (2.9 percent), gold (2.3 percent), or housing (0.4 percent.) Over a lifetime, a college degree will earn an individual an average of 570,000 dollars more than someone without a degree.

Recent APU graduate Jane Read'11, understands the benefit of having a college degree. She is the head athletic trainer at a high school in Texas while working toward a master's in athletic training from Baylor University. “Having my undergraduate degree equipped me with the education I need to succeed, and it developed me into a lifelong learner,” Read said. “Not only that, but college taught me invaluable time management skills and the basics of being a professional.”

According to Todd Ross, director of undergraduate student financial services, Azusa Pacific University works with its students to extend the accessibility and affordability of a college education. “We have increased the amount of scholarship dollars available to our students and expanded our overall scholarship budget by $7 million for this year. Currently, 92 percent of APU students receive financial aid.”

At a Glance: College, A Financial Investment

  • College graduates make nearly double the annual income of those who only had a high school education.
  • Research shows that a college graduate earns about $46,500 more per year than a high school graduate.
  • A college degree earns an individual an average of $570,000 more income, over a lifetime, than the average person without a degree.
  • On average, those with a college degree live longer than those without one.
  • More than 90% of students who graduated college, between 2008-10, were employed in 2010, as opposed to only 64% of their peers who did not attend college.
  • The rate of return on a college degree is 15.2% a year, more than double the average rate of return in the stock market (6.8%), and more than five times the average rate of return in corporate bonds (2.9%), gold (2.3%), or housing (0.4%).
Research shows that a college graduate earns about $46,500 more per year than a high school graduate.