The infographic above was sampled from the organization Third Way’s assessment of the state of higher education in the United States in 2019:
This report examines whether US institutions of higher education are successful in educating and preparing the next generation of workers. Specifically, it looks at three critical measures of success: 1) college completion; 2) post-enrollment-earnings; and 3) loan repayment. It examines these outcomes at four-year, two-year and certificate-granting institutions. It also provides a breakdown by educational sector, including student success rates at public, private non-profit, and for-profit institutions. We also examine whether institutions are succeeding across multiple measures, as federally-funded higher education institutions should ultimately be leading most of their students to graduate, earn a decent living, and pay down their loans over time.
and it’s a pretty fair summary of their findings. They also find that many are unable to pay the educational debt they’ve acquired with the pay they’re bringing down with their degrees.
I wish the article only cited medians in the context of normal distributions and standard deviations. As it is there’s no way to determine the relevance of the median. They may be completely irrelevant as would be the case in distributions other than normal ones.
There is one interesting factoid in the piece. The majority of students of more than 10% of four year institutions cannot pay down the interest on their educational debt let alone the principal after five years.
Multiple different conclusions may be drawn from Third Way’s assessment. You could decide that more loan subsidies are in order. You could infer that non-loan subsidies are necessary.
My own conclusion is that the number of people pursuing higher education is considerably higher than the number of jobs that pay what people with higher educations might be expected to earn. One metric that might support my conjecture is whether employers are increasingly demanding degrees beyond bachelors of their applicants (they are). For too many young people higher education is no longer the key to a brighter future but a treadmill.