When College Grads Earn Like High School Grads

Jordan Weissmam:

For the average graduate, going to college is a wonderfully profitable investment. The evidence is unambiguous. Even after subtracting tuition and all the years of foregone salary, the pay boost from a degree will still pay for itself, and then some. The problem is that the “average” college student doesn’t really exist; she’s an imaginary amalgam of state school grads and Ivy League alums, of education majors and engineering nerds.

Once you ignore averages, and start looking across the entire earnings spectrum, the question of whether higher education is financially worthwhile for everybody becomes more complicated. Recently, researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted that the bottom 25 percent of college degree holders basically earn no more than the median worker who ended his or her education after high school.