You might want to take a look at an article in the Wall Street Journal that questions the orthodox view of income prospects for college grads. Estimates
don’t take into account deductions from income taxes or breaks in employment. Nor do they factor in debt, particularly student debt loads, which have ballooned for both public and private colleges in recent years. In addition, the income data used for the Census estimates is from 1999, when total expenses for tuition and fees at the average four-year private college were $15,518 per year. For the 2009-10 school year, that number has risen to $26,273, and it continues to increase at a rate higher than inflation.
Dr. Schneider estimated the actual lifetime-earnings advantage for college graduates is a mere $279,893 in a report he wrote last year. He included tuition payments and discounted earning streams, putting them into present value. He also used actual salary data for graduates 10 years after they completed their degrees to measure incomes. Even among graduates of top-tier institutions, the earnings came in well below the million-dollar mark, he says.
There’s an additional problem. Averages don’t tell the whole story. Nor do median incomes. The standard deviation does, too. When you exclude the extraordinarily high incomes of grads from a handful of elite institutions and the incomes from professions that require post-graduate education and that are harder to get into than it is just to get an undergraduate degree, the differential vanishes.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t get college educations.
What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t expect colleges to be job training programs and that the idea that higher education will provide America with a bright economic future is a myth.