What’s the Value of an Associate’s Degree? The Return on Investment for Graduates and Taxpayers
Given the high cost associated with earning a degree—and its frequently accompanying debt burden—students, parents, policymakers, and the media are questioning the value of higher education. The authors of this report look at the labor market success of students who have graduated with an associate’s degree from a community college as their highest academic credential. Holders of associate's degrees earn more income and are less likely to be unemployed than high school students.
The authors explored the following questions:
- Do graduates who earn an associate’s degree and participate in the labor force experience returns, such as higher wages, that justify the costs incurred by them in obtaining that degree?
- Do taxpayers receive a positive return on their investment in the production of associate’s degrees?