Study: College does pay off

Students from John Moores' University celebrate and pose for family photographs as they take part in their degree congregations at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral on July 13, 2011 in Liverpool, England.

BOB MOON: Well, provided you can find a job, it's no surprise you tend to make more if you've gone to college. tend to make more money in the workforce. That's nothing new. But a new report out today from the Lumina Foundation says the college payoff is getting bigger -- despite the high price.

From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.


Amy Scott: A worker with a bachelor's degree makes 84 percent more over a lifetime than someone with just a high school diploma. Lumina Foundation president Jamie Merisotas says even at its most expensive, college still pays.

Jamie Merisotis: Unemployment rates are much lower for people with college degrees, and wages are considerably higher. So from a variety of different perspectives, getting a college degree is now more important than ever.

But the payoff isn't the same for everyone. African Americans and Latinos with master's degrees earn less than the average white person with just a bachelor's. Georgetown University's Tony Carnevale co-wrote the report. He says the conventional wisdom is that Blacks and Latinos go into occupations that pay less.

Tony Carnevale: But what comes through here very strongly is irrespective of occupation, there's a difference in earnings that we can't account for.

Skeptics of the idea that everyone should go to college say there won't be enough high-skill jobs for all those graduates, but Lumina's Merisotas says educated people help create jobs.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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