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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Is a College Degree Worth Years of Debt?

Person putting a coin into a graduation cap

In a recent article by Reshma Kapadia of Barron’s, Kapadia analyzes recent data from a Pew Research Center survey about whether or not most Americans think a college degree is worth the debt many have to take on. Kapadia writes, “Only one in four U.S. adults surveyed by Pew said it’s extremely or very important to get a four-year college degree to secure a well-paying job. And almost half said it’s less important than it was 20 years ago. Even more striking: Just a fifth said a college degree was worth it if it requires taking out loans and 29% said it wasn’t worth it at all. Roughly four in 10 adults who attended college had to take out debt to fund their education, according to the Federal Reserve.” With student debt interest rates reaching near all-time highs and the nation reaching astronomically high record student debt levels (roughly $1.6 trillion), one has to wonder how much longer the student debt levels can hold before the nation has a financial crisis.


In recent years the government has made it extremely easy to get student loans, this may have had a negative impact on student debt levels. Due to this, the number of people going to college has been rapidly increasing, but that doesn’t mean that all these people are graduating. Kapadia writes, “Greater numbers of Americans have been going to college in recent years, but only 37% earned at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the Fed.”


Although college graduates still earn a higher median income than highschool graduates, things have been getting better for those without a college degree. Kapadia writes, “While income and job prospects for those without a college degree had been declining from the mid-1970s to 2014, they have improved over the last decade…For example, while median earnings for young men with a high school education is still below 1973 levels, it has increased to $45,000 from $39,300 in 2014 in 2022 dollars.”


Now this data doesn’t mean that we should throw college out the window all together, Kapadia writes, “Of those with bachelor’s degrees, 75% of those 60-plus felt the benefits exceeded the costs, compared with 55% of those 18 to 44-years old.” It may however mean that people should take greater care when deciding if the ends justify the means when it comes to student loans.


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