Nervous about shelling out big bucks for a college degree in this economy? Here's a compelling reason to go to college: data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2008 indicates that higher education attainment still translates to a lower rate of unemployment and a higher salary. A handy graphic here breaks it down.
The annual average unemployment rate for adults over 25 with only a high school education was 5.7 percent in 2008, 5.1 percent for adults with some college but no degree, and 9.0 percent for those with no high school diploma or GED. Just finishing a degree at a community college drops the average unemployment rate to 3.7 percent, and getting a bachelor's degree reduces it to 2.8 percent. The drop in unemployment was less substantial for master's, professional, and doctoral degrees, with rates for those ranging from 1.7 to 2.4 percent.
Graduate and professional degrees really pay off in terms of increased salaries. Median full-time earnings for 2008 ranged from $426 per week for those with no high school diploma to $1,555 per week for those with doctoral degrees. Those with a diploma or GED but no degree could expect to make $591 to $645 per week working full-time, compared to $736 with an associate's degree. Median income rises rapidly from there, with four-year degree recipients making $978 per week and master's degrees and professional degrees resulting in median earnings of $1,228 and $1,522.
While these figures are for all adults age 25 and older in a wide variety of lines of work, they still present a compelling argument to at least consider a degree. Choosing the right college and doing a thorough scholarship search can help make higher education affordable, as well as lucrative.