Words & Numbers


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Insightful weekly commentary on news & current events from economist Antony Davies and political scientist James R. Harrigan.

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Is a College Degree Worth the Cost?

August 8, 2018

As the back-to-school season gets into full swing, hundreds of thousands of young people are heading back to class at their chosen college or university. On average, the simple dollar cost of tuition and fees for a four-year degree is about a quarter of a million dollars. A large majority of students will have to take on some kind student loan debt to cover these costs. But we've been told our whole lives that in order to have a good job and successful career, a college degree is both necessary and an automatic golden ticket, so it has to be worth it. Right? Join Antony Davies and James Harrigan as they drill down into the value of a college degree and more on this week's episode of Words and Numbers.

Show Notes:

Tuition and fees at 4-year institutions over time

30 million jobs in the US pay $55,000 per year and don’t require a college degree

High paying jobs sit empty while students go to college

Median income by education, 2017 (table 5)

Median income by education, 1997 (table 4)

Unemployment rate by education, 2017

Unemployment rate by education, 1997

Fraction of 15-24 year olds enrolled in college over time

Average pay by college major

Value of college majors chart

FEE high school seminars

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