Most four-year degrees pay off by paving the way for graduates to recoup the cost of their education relatively quickly, a new analysis finds. But that’s particularly true for some programs, while others may offer little economic advantage over a high school diploma.
The findings are part of a report on some 38,000 post-high school degree and certificate programs published this week by Third Way, a center-left public policy group. The report analyzed data collected for the federal Education Department’s “College Scorecard” tool to measure the “return on investment” offered by various higher education programs.
The report found that almost two-thirds of the 26,000 bachelor’s degree programs in the study enabled a majority of their graduates to make enough money to recover their costs in 10 years or less after graduation.
Bachelor’s degree programs, which typically take four years, are generally more expensive but are most likely to show at least some return on investment — meaning graduates earn enough to pay off their college costs reasonably quickly — for those who complete a degree, compared with two-year associate degrees or shorter certificate programs.