On July 8, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published Melissa Korn’s and Andrea Fuller’s article, “Financially Hobbled for ‘Life’: The Elite Master’s Degrees That Don’t Pay Off.” The article opened with the example of recent film program graduates of Columbia University who took out federal loans and had a median debt of $181,000. If the debt load incurred for their degrees wasn’t bad enough, Ms. Korn and Ms. Fuller reported that two years after graduation, half of those student loan borrower graduates were making less than $30,000 a year.
Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about the shortage of workers with the required education and training for more than six million unfilled positions in the U.S. Early in his presidency, Barack Obama called for increasing the number of Americans earning a college degree to maintain global competitiveness in an era with increasing technology innovations, some used to replace jobs in the workforce. Despite all the attention on higher education attainment, overall enrollments have decreased since 2010, with explanations ranging from a declining birth rate and low unemployment rates to an increasing perception that degrees may not provide the same return on investment for today’s students as for Baby Boomers and their parents.