Is college worth it? A Georgetown study measures return on investment — with some surprising results.

Susan Svrluga:

When Larry Burrill started college, his goal was to walk into a job that paid well after graduation. He was coming from a family of humble means and knew he would be paying his way through school. He chose Maine Maritime Academy, set in a historic town miles down a peninsula, because he knew graduates were earning starting salaries double or triple what he could otherwise expect to make.

That was back in the 1970s, but today, as a senior executive at an engineering services company he helped found (and as a father who paid for his children’s college educations), that practical approach makes more sense to him than ever. Higher education is so expensive now, he said, that few can afford the luxury of meandering through a liberal arts education without making hard calculations about employment prospects.

Is college worth it? Researchers at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce tried to answer that question, using newly released federal data to try to calculate return on investment for thousands of colleges across the country.