Washington — People with college degrees earn more and are far less likely than others to experience unemployment. The gaps have widened in recent years, according to Education Pays 2010, the latest report from the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center.
College Board officials emphasized that the widening gap between college graduates and those without a college degree makes efforts to increase educational attainment even more important.
"If it wasn't clear before, it should be abundantly clear now that a college graduate is far more competitive in today's workplace," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "What's most disturbing is that noncollege graduates are losing ground on salary and employment, a trend that validates the soundness of an investment in a college education."
While unemployment has risen for both groups during the economic downturn, from 2005 to 2009 the difference between the unemployment rates for those with a bachelor's degree and those with a high school diploma increased from 2.3 to 5.1 percentage points. In 2008, four-year college graduates earned nearly $22,000 more than those with just a high school diploma ($55,700 vs. $33,800). The earnings of college graduates increased more rapidly from 2005 to 2008 than the earnings of high school graduates.
"Even for students who use loans to finance all of their tuition, it would take only about 11 years to recoup the cost plus the foregone earnings. Over the long-run, they would be much better off financially than their counterparts without a degree," Caperton added.
The Education Pays 2010 report also establishes a correlation between education and health outcomes, community involvement, and other life patterns.
"Education pays out more than dollars," said Sandy Baum, an independent policy analyst for the College Board and co-author of all three Education Pays reports. "If you have a college degree, you are more likely to exercise, volunteer, vote and read to your kids, and less likely to be obese or smoke. According to the data, people's level of education profoundly affects both the financial and non-financial aspects of their lives."
Additional findings from the report:
- In 2008, 68 percent of college graduates were covered by employer-provided health insurance, but only 50 percent of people with high school diplomas had the same benefit.
- In 2008, 20 percent of four-year college graduates ages 25 to 44 were obese compared with 34 percent among people with high school diplomas.
- Smoking among bachelor's degree recipients dropped from 14 percent to 9 percent over the last decade, while the rate for high school graduates barely declined — 29 percent to 27 percent.
- Sixty-three percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 with college degrees exercised vigorously in 2008, but just 37 percent of high school graduates exercised in the same manner.
Volunteerism and Civic Engagement:
- In 2009, 43 percent of bachelor's degree recipients and 19 percent of high school graduates participated in community service activities.
- Across every age group, adults with higher levels of education are more likely to vote than those with lower levels of education.
- There was a gap of 30 or more percentage points between the voting rates of four-year college graduates and high school graduates in 2008.
Education Pays 2010: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society is the third Education Pays report from the College Board. The first report was issued in 2004, followed by a 2007 release. Education Pays 2010 is one in a series of college affordability and financial aid reports issued by the CBAPC to spotlight the current state of education in the U.S. and to demonstrate the importance and benefits of college readiness, access and completion. Upcoming activities will identify higher education challenges for students and families; provide assistance with understanding financial aid, and launch a new initiative to encourage college completion.
To view the complete Education Pays 2010 report, visit Education Pays 2010.
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center was established to help transform education in America. Guided by the College Board's principles of excellence and equity in education, the Center works to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Critical connections between policy, research and real-world practice are made to develop innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in education today. Drawing from the experience of the College Board's active membership consisting of education professionals from more than 5,700 institutions, priorities include: College Preparation & Access, College Affordability & Financial Aid, and College Admission & Completion. For more information, visit advocacy.collegeboard.org.
The College Board
The College Board is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of more than 5,700 of the nation's leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.
Stephanie Coggin, The College Board, 212-713-8052, firstname.lastname@example.org