Home Online Education Access and Affordability “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College” – Food for Thought

“The Rising Cost of Not Going to College” – Food for Thought


 153758162Pew Research Center has just published a compelling report, “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College.” Based on a nationwide study of 2,000+ adults supplemented by recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Pew found that on almost every measure of economic and career attainment, Millenials (adults between the ages of 25 to 32) with a college degree outperform their counterparts with less education.

For example, young college graduates earn on average $17,500 per year more than individuals with only a high school diploma. Average earnings for Millennials with only a high school diploma are just 62% of those of Millennial college graduates. This gap has widened from previously studied generations, including the Silent Generation Early Baby Boomers, Late Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

Furthermore, 22% of Millenials with a high school diploma are living in poverty versus only 7% of Early Baby Boomers. Millennials with a college degree are also more likely to see their job as a career or a stepping stone to a career than those without a college degree (86% with a degree versus. 57% without). More importantly, 72% of Millennials with a college degree believe that college has already paid off for them, and 90% of those who borrowed for college believe that the cost of college has been, or will later be, worth it.

While the average earnings of 25- to 32-year-old Millennial college graduates increased $7,000 in 2012 dollars from 1965 to 2013, the average high school graduate’s earnings fell $3,000 during the same period. This decline has offset the overall earnings gains of Millennial college graduates.

The study also examines the relevance of college degrees by program area. Those Millennial graduates with science or engineering degrees are most likely to be working in a field related to their area of study (60% versus 43% for all other liberal arts, social science, or business degrees).

While many critics of higher education disparage the cost of college—and there are many initiatives to lower college costs—the Pew Research study provides important supporting data for not only the importance of earning a college degree, but also the belief of college graduates in how valuable their degree is to their job and career. I recommend this report to higher education researchers, policymakers and parents who may wonder if the value of higher education is still worth it for the next generation.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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