Does It Pay to Get a Degree? The Rising Costs of Not Going to College

As more and more Americans find themselves dealing with student loan debt — it’s now topped $1 trillion — many millennials are questioning whether getting a degree is worth it. According to a study released by the Pew Research Center, it does still pay to get a degree. In fact, the report shows the earnings gap between young adults with and without bachelor’s degrees has stretched to its widest level in nearly half a century.

So what does that mean? Despite rising tuition costs, it’s still beneficial to obtain your bachelor’s. It may not be easy to see in the short term, but it will pay off in the long run.

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College degree versus high school diploma

According to the study, on virtually every measure of economic well-being, from personal earnings to job satisfaction to those employed full-time, young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education, despite the fact that young, college-educated workers are having a harder time landing work compared to earlier generations. Unfortunately, mostly in part to a struggling economy, they are more likely to be unemployed, and it takes them longer to find a job.

But it’s worse for those with just a high school diploma.

“For less-educated young workers, there is no upside: They are more likely to be unemployed and they are spending more time searching for a job compared with less-educated young workers who came before them. And their earnings are significantly below those received by less-educated young workers in earlier generations (with the exception of high school-educated Gen Xers),” according to the Pew Research Center.