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The Cost/Benefit Analysis Of A College Degree In One Chart

•, By Tyler Durden

For all the debate about a college education, its opportunity cost, the trade off of only having a high-school diploma, the impact of a record amount of debt on an entire generation's spending habits, and, of course, the alleged lack of inflation everywhere expect in those critical things that 99% of Americans must spend on daily, perhaps the simplest chart is the following, courtesy of the WSJ: it shows the average annual tuition – call it the "upfront investment", whether funded by debt or equity or both – for both a Bachelor's and an Associate's degrees from 1970 until 2013, as well as the average wages of those with each type of degree, once again expressed in real dollars.

In a nutshell:

  • The change in tuition costs expressed in real dollars from 1970 to 2013, amounts to a roughly 275% increase
  • The change in real wages for a graduate with a bachelor's degree over the same period amounts to a roughly 10% increase (and an outright decline for Associate's degree wages despite a doubling for Associate's degree tuition costs).
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