More Proof College Is A Terrible Investment…

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).

Is there any wonder then why the US middle class, and certainly both Generations X and Y, are hopelessly drowning in debt and why the economy can barely survive from one QE episode to the next?

Read more at the NY Fed which clearly tries to put a pleasant spin on the above chart.

 

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About the Author: Lew Rockwell

  • Maurice

    It depends on the University courses. If the courses taken are STEM, Accounting, Economics, Business, Medicine, Agriculture, etc. then these courses are worth the expenditures and will be a value to the person and society. But if the courses are the Liberal Arts courses then it is a question to which courses are a value to
    recover the expenses and offer a person with a career in that profession. For example Music can have many avenues for a profession, or accepted as Computer
    Programmer trainee due to the discipline Music requires. Literature is an excellent foundation for professional writing. But there is too many other Degrees
    that might have a value to the person, but no commercial value. The NYT had a good article a while back about persons with non-commercial college degrees, and cannot support themselves, were flooding both private and public law schools. However the legal profession is already saturated, and some law firms are already starting to have financial problems.

  • brenm

    College costs started skyrocketing when they started demanding the parents pay for it. Now they are no longer relying on what the student can work for and earn to get himself thru- they strap the parents for years. Don’t give me the line that it is every parents “job” to pay for college. Some parents simply cannot keep food on the table and get the child raised AND save for college. In our case we could not afford to take on the additional debt of college; but they had it structured so we had no choice. Our son would have had to wait at least one year to set up his own household, utilities, etc, and prove he was self supporting before they would have used his income only. They know that parents will do almost anything to insure their kids get what they need to do well in life; and consequently just keep raising prices beyond the point of ridiculous. Well, they got us once and 10 years later we are still paying for it. I always wondered what would happen if EVERYONE just decided that for one full year, no one or very few, would go to college. Just said “Enough is enough. Your prices are ridiculous and we aren’t paying them anymore!!” I bet there would be some drastic tuition rate cuts, etc in a hurry. Same for the textbooks.

  • Joe Cabot

    Just a guess but maybe republican companies got the idea for mooching off the government from democrat voters.

  • Joe Cabot

    Of course I knew you were being sarcastic, just as I assume that all of your posts are borne of sarcasm and that you are simply attempting to be a caricature of the hyperbole spewing, tantrum tossing, close minded minion beholden to the two-party system.

  • JohnDille

    APPARENTLY, YOU ARE NOT SHARP ENOUGH TO REALIZE THAT I WAS BEING SARCASTIC!!! Democrats and Republicans MUST do a lot of stuff pretty much the exact same way… for the same reason that nearly all humans eat by putting food and water in their mouths, and so on. THERE ARE ONLY VERY LIMITED NUMBER OF WAYS OF DOING A LOT OF IMPORTANT STUFF… SO DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS… OR WHITE FOLKS AND BLACK FOLKS… OR MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS… DO A LOT OF STUFF THE EXACT SAME WAY!!! Meanwhile, they THINK and do a lot of stuff in ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WAYS… because they DO NOT AGREE on a wide variety of matters and issues!!! LIBERAL DEMOCRATS AND CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS LOOK AT THE WOWRLD… AND DEAL WITH THE WORLD… IN OFTEN DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSING WAYS… except when practical necessity DEMANDS that they think and behave in the same way! SO YOUR COP OUT THAT BOTH PARTIES ARE THE SAME HOLDS VERY KLITTLE WATER!!! You can side with one other the other… OR YOU CAN CONTINUE TO SIT OF THE FENCE AND MAKE FUN OF BOTH… in which case… why should ANYONE take your political views seriously at all!!! YOU WANT TO LIVE IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA EARLY IN THE CIVIL WAR ERA… AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EITHER SIDE!!! Fine,, but do not expect ANYONE to much care what you think or say!!!

  • Joe Cabot

    Of course you are a master of the teaching of both parties. When you learn one platform you learn the other. I knew that you would eventually come around.

  • JohnDille

    By the way, what’s the the big deal with the capital letters? Do you think shouting makes you position the correct one? I AM TECHNICALLY BLIND… TOO MANY YEARS OF TOO MUCH READING, AND/OR WORKING OUT IN THE BRIGHT SUNLIGHT… PROBABLY BOTH!!! I TYPE IN CAPS BECAUSE I CAN SEE IT MUCH BETTER THAN SMALL CASE LETTERS… BUT ALSO BECAUSE IT ANNOYS ALL YOU RIGHT WINGERS BECAUSE YOU CANNOT REFUTE WHAT I HAVE TO SAY… SO YOU ATTACK THE WAY I SAY IT!!! As for colleges being Liberal… there is probably a LOT of truth to that… because another name for a liberal education is…. A GOOD, WELL ROUNDED EDUCATION!!! If the ONLY reason a person goes to college is to learn how to make a living, then that person is nothing more than a robot. IF A COMPANY WANTS A WELL TRAINED PERSON TO DO SOME PARTICULAR JOB… THEN COMPANIES OUGHT TO DO LIKE THEY USED TO DO…. AND ACTUALLY TRAIN PEOPLE HOW TO DO WHATEVER IT IS THEY WANT THEM TO DO!!! Republicans would be HORRIFIED by that idea… REPUBLICANS HAVE GOTTEN RICH BY MOOCHING OFF THE PEOPLE WHO DO THE REAL WORKL, AND BY MOOCHING OFF THE GOVERNMENT, and hiring people who have learned everything they need to do by going to government provided schools, MEANS THAT THE COMPANY IS MOOCHING OFF THE GOVERNMENT BY HAVING THAT GOVERNMENT DO ALL OF ITS TRAINING FOR THE COMPANY!!! Perhaps that is better than the Republican dominated companies that mooch off the government by paying such low wages that the government has to provide welfare and food stamps and health care to the employees of those Republican dominated companies… BUT WHEN YOU BOIL IT ALL DOWN, IT AMOUNTS TO THE SAME THING!!!

  • JohnDille

    IF BOTH PATIES TEACH THE SAME LINE OF BULL… THEN I AM A MASTER OF THE TEACHINGS OF BOTH PARTIES, NO? I have NO need to make up history or philosophy or any given science, because I have read and studied TONS of the stuff, written by people on ALL SIDES of the political spectrum! BY THE WAY… DID YOU GOOGLE THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION YET???? Probably not, so I will give you a hint… IT STARTED IN EUROPE MORE THAN 50 YEARS BEFORE THE UNITED STATES EVEN BECAME A COUNTRY!!! And it did not really catch on here until about a 100 years AFTER we became a country… and when it finally did.. the impacts were fairly minor for at least ANOTHER 50 years… THE UNITED STATES WAS MOSTLY DOMINATED BY AGRICULTURE UNTIL WELL INTO THE 20TH CENTURY! Then that dang FDR came along, and messed up the right wing Conservative paradise that Republicans had established and had turned into a gigantic plantation system for the rich!!! JUST ANOTHER GRIM REALITY THAT ANY HONEST HISTORIAN WOULD TELL YOU IS TRUE!!!

  • Joe Cabot

    And a fine indoctrination you received. You are now able to preach about tolerance and inclusion while hypocritically yelling and screaming about the ignorance of anyone who does not agree with you. You fell in line with one side of the two-party sham and now toss tantrums across the aisle just as you were ordered. You make stuff up and revise history in an attempt to support weak points. And best of all you learned to find your Caps Lock key. In fact, I would ascertain that you were indoctrinated with honors. Kudos to you for that comrade.

  • PStarr

    You’re a f’ing idiot. Only a blind douchebag wouldn’t know colleges are nothing but lib/Democrat/ Commie heaven. But then, most libs and communists are cowards who know that NO ONE agrees with their agenda, so they lie about it and hide the truth. In your case however, I’m getting you’re just a useful idiot liberal douchebag.

  • JohnDille

    BACK BEFORE REAGAN AND HIS BUDDIES DELIBERATELY PERVERTED THE SYSTM, THE VAST MAJORITY OF KIDS PAID FOR COLLEGE THE SAME WAY I DID. I worked, and later I finished college on the GI Bill… AND NEVER HAD TO BORROW A DIME… because back then, even lower income people like myself could afford college with a little scrimping and careful planning. MY ENTIRE FIRST YEAR OF COLLEGE… TUITION, BOOKS, ROOM AND BOARD IN THE COLLEGE DORM… cost about $ 1,500… about what I earned in 2 months back then… with a LOT of over time… but even so. Most kids back then could afford college WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM THEIR PARENTS. Even when I finally graduated in 1980… after a number of years of living homeless… then working… then being in the military… then spending 5 full years in college… working here and there during that whole time… THE GI BILL PAID MY WHOLE WAY THROUGH THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS OF COLLEGE… even though the benefits were well under $ 500 a month! IN OTHER WORDS… COLLEGE WAS AFFORDABLE FOR MOST PEOPLE. Over the last 30 years, the number of people going to school has been falling… at any accelerated rate… because the Republican war on working people have driven down wages… DRAMATICALLY… especially in the bottom half of the system and less so in the middle third of the system, while college costs have SOARED because rich kids and their parents have been able to bid up the price of college… and medical care… and housing… and insurance… and everything else of any importance… pricing more and more people out of those things THAT USED TO BE READILY AVAILABLE TO ALMOST EVERYONE EXCEPT THE BOTTOM 15 TO 20% OF SO… THEY WOULD HAVE HAD TO MAKE EXTRA EFFORT TO GET THOSE THINGS… BUT BACK THEN… IT WAS EASY TO GET JOBS! Then Republicans took over and busted the unions and hired millions of illegals and shipped millions of jobs to China and elsewhere… AND NOW WE HAVE A RAPIDLY GROWING UNDERCLASS THAT REALLY AND TRULY CANNOT AFFORD EVEN THE BASICS WITHOUT GOVERNMENT HELP!!! The student loan thing is mostly a symptom of all that… NOT THE CAUSE! If wages and job availability was the same today as it was when I started college in the late 1960’s,,, THE LARGE MAJORITY OF AMERICAN KIDS COULD STILL AFFORD TO GO TO COLLEGE… WITHOUT ABNY LOANS AT ALL… or small and or temporary loans like those I made to several of my friends who got caught short of cash at critical times. I WAS WORKING STEADY, AND THEY WERE NOT…. AND MY DUMB LABOR FACTORY JOB PAID JUST ABOUT DOUBLE TODAYS MINIMUM WAGE… IF ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION… though only about 25% over the minimum wage of that day…. ADJUSTED FOR INFALTION, THE MINIMUM WAGE PEAKED IN FEBRUARY 1968, AT 11,27 AN HOUR in todays money! IT IS THE STEADY DECLINE IN MINIMUM AND LOWER LEVEL WAGES THAT IS DIRECTLY RESPOSNIBLE FOR MANY OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS WE HAVE TODAY!!! For one thing… it really and truly makes no sense at all to work unless you are getting paid AT LEAST 3 to 3 dollars OVER minimum wage. If my daughter were working for Minimum wage… SHE WOULD HAVE TO WORK 2 FULL MONTHS JUST TO PAY HER RENT EACH MONTH… and for where she lives, her rent is well BELOW average!!! IT IS REALLY AND TRULY A NATIONAL DISGRACE THAT THE RICH REPUBLICANS WHO OWN AND CONTROL THIS NATION ARE TOO ARROGANT AND SELFISH AND STUPID TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THEIR LOW WAGE POLICIES ARE DOING TO THIS NATION AND A VERY LARGE PORTION OF ITS PEOPLE!!!

  • B

    If this is the case then shouldn’t the lion’s share of our college professors all be, by default, the same rich republican kids you say are the only ones that can afford college? Funny. Most colleges I’ve ever been exposed to, including the community college not far from me, are teaming with students and faculty that would make Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi look like a staunch republicans by comparison. I would say despite what you have read recently, there is much more of a liberal presence at colleges than you think. By the way, what’s the the big deal with the capital letters? Do you think shouting makes you position the correct one?

  • Eileen

    Easy money in student loans have driven up the cost of college.

  • JohnDille

    POOR RICH REPUBLICANS!!! THEIR KIDS ARE SO DUMB THAT THE ONLY WAY FOR THEM TO COMPETE IS FOR THEIR PARENTS TO DRIVE UP THE COST OF COLLEGE, SO THAT ONLY RICH REPUBLICAN KIDS CAN AFFORD TO GO!!! Talk about the dumbing down of America!!! When only dumb rich kids can go to college, and only college educated kids can get the most important jobs, our fate will have been sealed…. and it just so happens that that is exactly what has been happening, bit by bit, ever since Ronald Reagan took office WITH A PUBLIC PLEDGE OF GETTING DEAD BEAT LIBERALS AND OTHER SMART KIDS OUT OF COLLEGE! He HATED those hippies and anti-war and pro Civil Rights Liberals of the 1960’s and 1970’s… and so did most of his supporters! SERIOUSLY… I READ AN EYE OPENING ESSAY ABOUT HIS DELIBERATE EFFORTS TO DRIVE LIBERAL KIDS OUT OF COLLEGE JUST THE OTHER DAY!!!