With college costs constantly rising, and graduates facing increasing economic challenges, more and more people are wondering if college is worth it. To which David Leonhardt at the New York Times offers a simple, straightforward answer: "Yes … and it's not even close." Leonhardt cites a new Economic Policy Institute study based on Labor Department statistics showing that the average four-year college grad makes 98% more per hour than their non-graduate counterpart, up from 89% five years earlier.
That indicates that even as the number of graduates rises, there's still a shortage. "A four-year degree has probably never been more valuable." Rising costs shouldn't scare graduates, either; the study estimates that a degree's true average cost is negative $500,000. Sure graduates face challenges, and a degree doesn't guarantee success. "But of course it doesn't. Nothing guarantees success." Still, Matthew Yglesias at Vox isn't impressed by the numbers. If you made a chart of the earnings of BMW owners' incomes versus average Americans, it would show that BMWs were "worth it," too, he points out. We'd need more rigorous research to know if college itself powers wages, particularly for marginal students.