Young people and their parents have long seen college as key to achieving economic security and elevating social status, and with good reason. Research suggests that college graduates have higher incomes, lower unemployment, more stable marriages, and longer lives. Based on this data, policymakers and advocates have looked for ways to increase the number of students who make their way to and through college.
Nevertheless, amidst growing concerns about the cost of college, the Supreme Court’s decision to block the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan, and rising political polarization, many Americans appear to be losing faith in higher education. For many, college now looks like a risky investment, and students and policymakers alike are asking whether a college education is still worth it.
On Thursday, December 7, the Brookings Center for Economic Security and Opportunity convened a virtual panel to discuss what the evidence says about the returns on college and how policy should address growing concerns about the value of higher education: Is getting a college degree still worth it? For which students at which institutions are the returns most reliable? What can be done to support students at all types of institutions and ensure that college pays off for more students?
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