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College Degrees

"Who Wins? Who Pays? The Economic Returns and Costs of a Bachelor's Degree"

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When it comes to lifetime earnings, a bachelor’s degree is worth the investment, according to a study released last week by the American Institutes for Research, a not-for-profit behavioral and social-science research organization in Washington.

And, the more competitive the school, the higher the income the student can expect. But the advantage applies most at the top-tier colleges. At less selective, nonprofit private colleges, students shell out so much more in tuition that the net income gain is not as great as for graduates of the schools’ public counterparts, the study shows.

“There may be other reasons to go to a local private institution—it may be small and offer other advantages,” said Mark Schneider, a co-author of the study and a vice president of AIR.

His study finds that the net present value of additional earnings of students with bachelor's degrees compared with those with a high school diploma ranges, over a lifetime, from $234,557 for a less competitive, private nonprofit school to $524,473 for a flagship state school.

Vol. 30, Issue 31, Page 5

Published in Print: May 18, 2011, as College Degrees
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