Is A Bachelor's Degree Really Worth The Cost [Infographic]?
As the cost of higher education has escalated in recent years, there's been no shortage of debate about whether the cost of a four-year college degree is worth the expense -- especially given the current sluggish labor market.
The average cost for in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges averages $8,244 for the 2011-12 school year, 8.3 percent more than last year, according to a recently released report by the College Board. Tuition and fees at private four-year colleges rose by 4.5 percent to an average $28,500 for the 2011-12 school year.
Despite the ballooning cost, advocates for higher education contend that a college degree is worth the expense, resulting in total lifetime earnings that are about $1 million more than for those with a high-school diploma.
Further, as employers demand more and more workers with special skills, having a bachelor's degree can help U.S. workers better compete in an increasingly global, technologically centered economy, according to an entry at the Knowledge@Wharton blog, published by the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.
Few people dispute the economic value of at least some post-high school education, since incomes can rise sharply with further schooling, the blog notes. At issue is who is best served by a four-year college experience and what the viable alternatives should be.
"There isn't one way to the finish line," according to Wharton marketing professor Eric Bradlow. "The educational system should provide a broad set of opportunities."
For more facts on the worth of a college degree in today's economy, check out these insights from Rasmussen College, a career-focused, private college that emphasizes in-demand degree programs:
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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