The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) has found that not all American adults believe that a bachelor’s degree is worth their time and money.
In a survey of 2,200 American adults, only six in 10 considered a college degree worth it after graduation. Their opinions reportedly varied by political affiliation, age, and income level.
About three-quarters of wealthy and college-educated Americans who participated in the survey say a college degree is “definitely” or “probably” worth it. However, only half of adults without a degree or who earn less than $50,000 per year say diplomas are valuable.
By political affiliation, seven in 10 Democrats believe a college degree is worth their time and money, while only 53 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents share the sentiment.
Furthermore, 61 percent of Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and 63 percent of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) say college is “definitely” or “probably” worth their investment.
Vice president of research at AACU, Ashley Finley, said a college degree allows people to earn more money after graduation despite the various public opinions about it. “Any way you slice it, the probability that you will make a return on your investment is there,” she told Inside Higher Ed.
However, she conceded that many people think earning a bachelor’s degree is very expensive, and a student still needs to find a part-time job to pay tuition and other academic expenses.
“That’s not a narrative that’s going to disadvantage students from wealthier socioeconomic classes — they will always have the opportunity to go to college,” she explained. “When we talk about for whom it’s worth your time and money, we are talking about lower income portions of the population, which of course have always correlated with race and have always correlated with first-generation students.”