Earning a bachelor’s degree boosts annual earnings by $20,000 a year compared to high school graduates’ pay, estimates Skidmore economist Sandy Baum. Subtract inflation and calculate the cost of attending a state university (including the cost of not working for four years) and the real net value is about $300,000 in 2008 dollars. That’s a lot less than the million-dollar college bonus that’s been touted for years, but it’s still a good investment, Baum says.
Those who go on to earn a professional degree do very well.
The average holder of a bachelor’s degree earns about $51,000 a year, Baum calculates. But those who’ve gone on to earn MBAs, law degrees, or other professional degrees earn about $100,000 a year.
College can make a bigger difference for the poor, who otherwise might be stuck in low-wage jobs.
Of course, a technical degree is worth more on the employment market than a fuzzy studies degree. And it helps to go to a college or university with a good reputation: Don’t count on a big salary jump when you finish your Miscellaneous Studies degree at Warmbody College.