Benefits of a Higher Education
Postsecondary education provides important benefits to the individual
and to society. The following studies report on these benefits.
- Mark Kantrowitz,
The Financial Value of a Higher Education,
Journal of Student Financial Aid 37(1):18-27, NASFAA, July 2007.
- A bachelor's degree is worth $1.2 million more in lifetime income
than a high school diploma, a 27% return on investment.
- A doctoral degree is worth $1.7 million in lifetime income than a
bachelor's degree, and a professional degree (doctor, lawyer) $2.9
million more than a bachelor's degree.
- A bachelor's degree yields $133,000 more in cumulative federal
income tax revenue, a 14% return on investment for the federal government.
- Replacing loans with grants in the financial aid packages of low
income students (AGI < $50,000) would pay for itself if it yielded a
32% increase in the number of low income students graduating with
bachelor's degrees. Under certain reasonable assumptions it would pay
for itself if the increase were just 15%.
- Mark Schneider,
How Much Is That Bachelor's Degree Really Worth? The Million Dollar Misunderstanding,
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research,
- Adjusted return on investment analysis for different types of
colleges, based on actual salary data ten years after
graduation. Demonstrates significant added value from the most
selective private non-profit colleges.
- Sandy Baum and Jennifer Ma,
Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society,
College Board, 2007.
(This is an annual publication. The latest version can be found at
Benefits to the Individual,
Benefits to Society,
Benefits to Health and Parenting)
- 11 year payback period for the cost of a higher education
- higher salaries
- increased access to employer-paid health benefits and pension plans
- improved health and healthier lifestyles (less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise)
- increased volunteerism
- increased voting rates
- more likely to donate blood
- lower unemployment
- lower poverty
- increased tolerance
- Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
- Anthony P. Carnevale, Stephen J. Rose and Ban Cheah,
The College Payoff,
Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings, Georgetown University
Center on Education and the Workforce, August 5, 2011.
- Anthony P. Carnevale, Jeff Strohl and Michelle Melton,
What's It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors,
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, May 24, 2011.
- Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah and Jeff Strohl,
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, January 4, 2012.
- Albano JD, Ward E, Jemal A, Anderson R, Cokkinides VE, Murray T, et
al., Cancer Mortality in the United States by Education Level and
Race. J Natl Cancer Inst 99:1384-1394, September 2007.
Cancer patients with a higher education
are less likely to die of cancer than cancer patients with just a high
school diploma. The study examined mortality rates for lung, breast,
prostate and colorectal cancer for patients with 12 or fewer years of
education compared with patients with more than 12 years of education.
- Measuring the Effects of Education on Health and Civic Engagement, OECD.
See also the
Common Good Forecaster
for a tool that explores the impact of educational attainment on
health, life expectancy, voting, crime, employment and income.