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What's the Value of a College Education?

College Grads Make More Money

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 2013 median weekly earnings for people with only a high school diploma was $651 per week.  For people with a bachelor’s degree, 2013 median weekly earnings were $1,108 per week—nearly double!  The value of a college degree is, on average, an additional $457 a week in median income.

College Grads Are Healthier and Live Longer

According to a May 2012 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) press release between 2007 and 2010, women 25 and older without bachelor’s degrees are more likely to be obese than women with bachelor’s degrees.  In 2010 31% of people aged 25 to 64 who had high school diplomas or less education were smokers, while only 9% with bachelor’s degrees or higher smoked.

In a July 2013 report entitled ‘The Effect of Educational Attainment on Adult Mortality in the U.S.’ Robert A. Hummer and Elaine M. Hernandez of the Population Reference Bureau describe a relationship between educational attainment and longevity.  In 2005, 25-year-old American men and women high school graduates’ life expectancy was 76 and 81 years respectively.   For 25-year-old American men and women college graduates it was 82 and 87 years respectively.  The value of a college degree is better health and, on average, living six years longer.

College Grads Give Back To Their Communities

The skills, experience, knowledge, contacts, and networks gained in college broaden the ability to “give back”—whether by teaching a class at a house of worship or community center, tutoring at an after-school program, introducing young people to possible careers and prospective employers, getting involved with local causes, or simply contributing to the local economy.  According to The College Board, unemployment, poverty, and incarceration rates fall, and as education levels rise, civic engagement increases.  In 2003, 46.6% of people with at least a bachelor’s degree participated in volunteer activity in their communities, compared to only 21.7% with high school diplomas.   In 1994, 17.6% of people with bachelor’s or higher degrees donated blood, compared to 11% of high school graduates.  In 2000, 74% of 25- to 44-year-old college graduates voted compared to 45% of high school graduates. The value of a college degree is a stronger community.