Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

June 27, 2014

The High Price of Admission

Nearly 45% of 25-year-olds have outstanding student loans with an average balance of more than $20,000. Worse yet, more than one-half of recent college graduates are unemployed, or under-employed working for substandard pay at jobs that do not require a degree. One in five has moved back in with their parents, and more than half receive financial support from them. These alarming data points are from the recent NY Times article The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave.

How much of this is simply the prolonged fall-out of the Great Recession and how much is structural change is unknown. But the Times article, and many others, suggest that the increasingly high costs of a college education may require a rethink of the automatic decision to attend university at any cost. Where college once was the best, and affordable, guarantee of a well-paid career, today it is increasingly just a very expensive admission cost with an increasingly uncertain payoff.

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