The College Payoff

Anthony P. Carnevale — Stephen J. Rose — Ban Cheah 

Released: August 5, 2011

 Full Report

Executive Summary

Press Release

Media Coverage

A college degree pays off--but by just how much? In this report, we examine just what a college degree is worth--and what else besides a degree might influence an individual's potential earnings. This report examines lifetime earnings for all education levels and earnings by occupation, age, race/ethnicity and gender. The data are clear: a college degree is key to economic opportunity, conferring substantially higher earnings on those with credentials than those without.

 Key Findings

EARNINGS OVERLAP:

In a surprising number of cases, people with less educational attainment earn more than those with more education.  This graphic represents just how much earnings overlap there is, relative to the median lifetime earnings of workers with a Bachelor's degree ($2,868,000)

"RULES" OF THE EDUCATION AND EARNINGS GAME:

INSTRUCTIONS: Click the graphic below to read one of these rules, click again to see the others. For more information, download and read the executive summary and full report.