Sept. 13, 2007

The (Non-Monetary) Value of a College Degree

With all the recent focus on accountability and
<> "value added"
by a college degree, it's still common for a conversation on this topic to
come down to individual earning potential. And a new
<>  report from the
College Board has plenty of data to back up the well-worn claim that college
graduates can expect significantly higher wages over their lifetime than
their counterparts.

But perhaps its more significant contribution to the dialogue is, as the
co-author Sandy Baum puts it, the quantification of non-monetary benefits.
To that end, "Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for
Individuals and Society," can be seen as part of a growing campaign
<>  to frame higher
education as not only a private investment but as a public good.

The report, a follow-up to the original 2004 publication
df>  that included many of the same indicators, uses data from the
Department of Education, the U.S. Census Bureau and surveys by other higher
education groups. One of its main assertions (also backed by plenty of
data): College graduates are more engaged citizens and make healthier
decisions than those who don't earn a diploma. Thus, the report argues,
higher education has a high rate of return for society. A more educated work
force means greater tax revenue and a stronger democracy.



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