Study: 25% of US Grads Earn Less Than High School Students

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    The Facts

    • According to a study conducted by The HEA Group, 1 in 4 US higher education program attendees earn less than the median annual income of $32K earned by high school graduates a decade after enrolling.

    • The study analyzed data from the US Department of Education's College Scorecard to calculate the earning outcomes of nearly 5M students at 3,887 higher education institutions across the country.

    The Spin

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Most people enroll in higher education intending to better themselves economically. However, this is still a dream for more than a quarter of students. While earning a good salary after completing higher education is a reasonable expectation, many institutions do not provide the value students expect. This study shows that higher education isn't always worth the cost.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    While the data may be disappointing, this study's findings may not be indicative of most higher education institutions. Other studies on the economic impact of higher education have found that increased education strongly correlates with higher earnings and, at the very least, correlates with lower poverty rates.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 32% chance that there will be fewer than 400 public 4-year colleges in the US by 2050, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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