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Solutions for our Future is an effort to raise awareness that higher education is one of America's greatest resources

Shifting Economies: Education Pays.

Colleges and universities are an engine for economic growth in the United States.

  • Increased skills boost overall economic productivity, which in turn contributes to economic growth.

  • During the postwar years from 1948 to 1973, it is estimated that education and the innovation that arose from it accounted for two-thirds of the increase in U.S. economic growth.

  • Increasing the country�s average level of schooling by one year could increase economic growth by 6 to 15 percent, adding between 600 billion to 1.5 trillion to U.S. economic output.

In addition to the higher earnings enjoyed by individuals who have attended or graduated from college, we all benefit from the higher tax revenues, the lower demands on social support programs, and the higher productivity generated by the highly educated.
  • Earning a college degree increases earnings: The median earnings for male college graduates are 60% higher than median earnings for high school graduates.  For females, the earnings premium for a college degree is 58%.

  • The earnings differential has increased over time. Wages for jobs requiring high school or less in preparation declined over the last two decades in contrast to increases for jobs requiring four-year degrees.

  • Even with higher tuitions, higher education pays. By the age of 33, the typical college graduate has earned enough to compensate for both paying full tuition and fee charges at the average public four-year college, and forgoing earnings for four years.  From that point on, each year increases the lifetime earnings benefit of a college degree. 

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American Council on Education
One Dupont Circle, NW
Washington DC, 20036
Phone: (202) 939-9456
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