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Skipping college has never been more costly

Published: Friday, Feb. 21 2014 1:05 p.m. MST

Student debt is high. Unemployment is high. And yet, the cost of not going to college is greater for young people than it's ever been in the modern era.

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Student debt is high. Unemployment is high. And yet, the cost of not going to college is greater for young people than it's ever been in the modern era.

From personal earnings to career satisfaction, young college grads are outperforming their less-educated peers in almost every way, says a new study from Pew Research Center.

Millennial college grads ages 25 to 32 who are working full time earn substantially more per year — about $17,000 more — than those that only graduated from high school. They are also 7 percent more likely to be employed full time, and 9 percent more likely to have a job.

Even as the worth and price of a college education is coming under fire, those with a college education still have an edge, and that edge is wider than it has ever been. More and more of the money earned in the U.S. is flowing into college-educated households.

Last year, for the first time on record, households headed by someone with a college degree received almost a majority of aggregate U.S. household income (49.7 percent), and nearly one out of every $2 went to the college educated. The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce finds that college graduates earn nearly twice as much as workers with just a high school diploma.

Still, not all degrees are the same. Those who majored in science or engineering were the most happy with their college education and are were less likely than social science, liberal arts or education majors to say that they should have chosen a different major to prepare them for a job.

College is still useful, or at least better than the alternative. But that doesn't mean students should be looking for a good value in education, warns financial columnist Michelle Singletary. "So college does pay off for a lot of people. But don’t confuse that with college at any cost," she says. "You need to be moneywise about what you can afford and get some work experience while you are still in school."

Email: laneanderson@deseretnews.com

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