$29,100 – Average cumulative debt for 2020–21 bachelor’s degree recipients who graduated with debt from public and private nonprofit four-year institutions; 54% of students graduated with debt. This was an improvement over the 2015–16 school year, when 60% of students graduated with an average debt of $32,100.
Source: College Board, 2022
While there is widespread concern about student debt and the cost of higher education, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics makes a strong case that higher education leads to higher earnings and lower unemployment rates.
In 2022, median annual earnings for a full-time worker with a bachelor’s degree were about $30,000 more than for a worker with only a high school diploma, a difference of more than $1 million over a 35-year career. Even so, it’s important to be realistic about taking on debt in relation to expected earnings, as the job market and potential compensation can vary widely for different fields of study.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023 (data for ages 25 and older; annual earnings based on usual weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers)
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