While there has been much hand-wringing among policymakers about the rising cost of college and growing levels of student debt, most analysts agree that those who earn a college degree are better off economically than those who don’t.
Still, it can take more than a decade to fully pay off. A new report from the College Board finds that the average bachelor’s degree recipient will have recouped the cost of college by age 34. “A college education is an investment that pays dividends over the course of a lifetime—even for students who accumulate some debt to obtain a degree.”
The report finds that graduating college not only benefits students, but also society as a whole. College grads earn more money, pay more taxes and are more likely to be employed at jobs with retirement benefits and health insurance. They’re also more likely to move up the socio-economic ladder and less likely to rely on public assistance, the report finds.
In 2015, the median earnings of Americans 25 and older with just a bachelor’s degree were nearly $25,000 higher than those of high school grads. A quarter of bachelor’s degree holders age 35 to 44 were earning $100,000 or more in 2015, compared to just 5 percent of high school grads. Nearly 40 percent of those with a master’s degree were taking home six figures.