NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 19, 2008

High school dropouts forfeit millions of dollars in lifetime earnings compared to their college graduate peers, says Margaret Spellings, the U.S. Secretary of Education.  But Spellings and countless others who make the  claim might want to sign up for a remedial math class, says Reason.

According to an analysis by Charles Miller, the former chairman of the Commission of the Future of Higher Education:

  • The often-quoted "million-dollar" payoff is off by over $700,000.
  • Getting a B.A. produced a lifetime earnings differential of only $279,893 for a bachelor's degree versus a high school degree, after accounting for a host of factors including ever-rising tuition, likely income growth, inflation, the typical number of years worked, and the number of students who do not go on for advanced degrees.

Miller says he does not want to dissuade high schoolers from going on to college, but to call attention to the myth that education pays -- and a taxpayer-subsidized financial aid system that makes it easier for colleges and universities to pass along tuition increases to customers, says Reason. 

Source: Nick Gillespie, "Million-Dollar B.A.?" Reason, August/September 2008.


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