Are We Paying Too Much for Higher Education? (Opinion)

Ann McClure's picture

My newest piece for the magazine, on whether college remains a good investment, is now up on our website.

The short answer to that question is: yes, but . . .

The average return to education remains very high--higher, indeed, than it was a couple of decades ago. But that average includes a lot of variation. Marginal students may not benefit as much--while the returns seem to be very positive, they can be very, very low. For a student who spends a couple of semesters in school, runs up debt, and then drops out, they can be negative. And they’re low in part because of the rapid run-up in the cost of tuition that we’ve seen in recent decades. The more you increase the up-front cost, the lower the net present value of your investment.

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