Is A Bachelor's Degree Really Worth The Cost [Infographic]?

undergraduate degree cost valueAs 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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I have a BBA and while it's not benefiting me at the moment while the economy is sluggish. I do agree with some experts that it will benefit somewhere down the road. The figures don't lie people with degrees on average make more money than those without them. There are the exceptions but in many cases thats timing of the individual. I would say at least get a 2 year degree if anything, you don't have to get a Phd to be successful just pick something you enjoy and go with it.

April 15 2012 at 2:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bottom line : Expanding one's education pays off in the long run. Education expands one's opportunities and one's options. It can also confirm what vocation one seeks to pursue. Obtaining meaningful "hands on experience" reinforces application of the information one absorbs as well. Personally, I took a longer route to achieve that. I worked full time in various settings while going to school part time at night. In the long run I graduated with a B.A. in a field I was comfortable in vs. a field I would have to settle for. Working full time in the private sector while going to college part time exposed me to vocations that would or would not motivate me. In the final analysis I was able to choose and work in a vocation that I was comfortable with by being exposed to certain vocations that I was not comfortable with. Remember that you're "married" to a job to survive in any society. You might as well be "married" to a job you potentially enjoy waking up to go to until you retire vs. hating to wake up because you have little to no choice but to go to work to earn the salary to pay your bills with !

December 14 2011 at 10:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"from Rasmussen College"

This whole report was sponsored by the industry that has an interest in you going to college.

December 02 2011 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peggy Parker

Higher education is over rated. One does need to know how to do something, but I find that a certificate or an associate degree is best. Then one can go right to work and gain experience. There are many people out there with degrees who don't have a job and who do not make as much as a high school graduate. This is proven by the fact that those that have degrees are increasingly working in positions that were traditionally held by high school graduates, who are usually more competent because they have the experience and the skills already. Employers are trying to compensate for the fact that getting a degree does not guarantee a high paying job. They offer administrative assistant and secretary positions requiring an associate or bachelors degree. Learn a skill and be good at it and you will do fine. When on the job be an honest, smart hardworker. That is what I have observed. One should not get sucked in by what the popular opinion is. If you can get a job that pays fairly well, take the job and get additional education, such as a certificate or an associate or even higher later. It is not a sin to not have a degree if you are able to care for yourself and take care of all your needs. You will be happier.

November 01 2011 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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