Is college worth it?, asks a Pew Research Center survey. Many Americans aren’t sure: 57% of those surveyed said the U.S. higher education system doesn’t provide good value for the money students and parents spend. Only 22 percent believe that most people today can afford to pay for a college education.
On the plus side, 86 percent of college graduates said college has been a good investment for them personally. But that doesn’t include people who paid for a year or two of college, but left without completing a degree.
Four-year college graduates estimated they earn $20,000 more a year on average because of their degree. Workers who didn’t attend college agreed that it costs them about $20,000 a year. That’s very close to the wage gap reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010: $19,550.
College students are borrowing more: About half of those with substantial debt said it’s harder to pay other bills; a quarter said it has made it harder to buy a home and about a quarter said college debt has affected their career choices.
Most young adults who hadn’t completed college blamed high costs and the need to support a family.
While 94 percent of parents surveyed said they expect their child to attend college, getting a college education didn’t come in first when respondents were asked what it takes for a young person to succeed in life: 61 percent said a good work ethic is very important, 57 percentsaid they need to know how to get along with people and just 42 percent said a college education is very important.