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New survey questions the value of college

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Steve Chiotakis: I remember years ago, when I was working full time, knee-deep in Psych 283 homework and eating ramen noodles for dinner, I’d find myself mumbling one question.

From the Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Marketplace’s Amy Scott says it’s a pretty common question.

Amy Scott: Is college worth the money? Not surprisingly, your answer may depend on whether you got a degree.

Paul Taylor is one of the Pew survey’s authors. He says a majority of the general public said college is not a good value for the money.

Paul Taylor: But if you ask college graduates whether college was a good investment for them personally, an overwhelming share — 86 percent — say yes, it was a good investment for me personally.

Taylor says a typical college graduate makes almost $20,000 a year more than someone who has only finished high school.

Richard Vedder directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. He says that’s not the case for the many people who go to college and don’t finish.

Richard Vedder: There are still a lot of people for whom college is a good investment. But for that 40 percent who don’t make it through, it’s clearly not so good an investment.

College graduates also reported being happier and more satisfied with their jobs. Among 18- to 35-year-olds without a bachelor’s degree and not in school, almost half said they couldn’t afford college.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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