higher ed overview

Facts

Drawn either by the growing importance of a college degree or the 24/7 party lifestyle dramatized in such classics as Animal House or Old School, a growing number of students are attending higher-ed institutions.

College bound

Percentage of 25-29 year olds (2003)

who have completed a bachelor's degree or higher NCES (PDF):

  • 28.4%

who have completed at least some college NCES (PDF):

  • 57.4%

In school

2002 higher-ed enrollment by level NCES:

  • All levels: 17.0 million
  • Undergraduate: 14.7 million
  • Graduate: 2.0 million
  • Post-graduate: 319,000

Public vs. Private

Percentage of higher-ed students enrolled in (2002 NCES)...

  • Public college/university: 75.6%
  • Private college/university: 24.4%

Percentage of undergraduate students enrolled in (2002 NCES)...

  • Public college/university: 78.8%
  • Private college/university: 21.2%

Is a college degree really worth it?

How much are college grads making compared to everyone else?

Average median salary for men ages 25-34 with a bachelor degree or higher (in 2004 dollars): (IES)

  • 2004: $50,700 (vs. all edu levels: $36,000)
  • 2003: $49,600 (vs. all edu levels: $36,600)
  • 1995: $46,400 (vs. all edu levels: $34,200)
  • 1980: $46,300 (vs. all edu levels: $40,600)

Average median salary for women ages 25-34 with a bachelor degree or higher (in 2004 dollars): (IES)

  • 2004: $40,300 (vs. all edu levels: $31,000)
  • 2003: $41,300 (vs. all edu levels: $31,500)
  • 1995: $37,300 (vs. all edu levels: $27,500)
  • 1980: $34,100 (vs. all edu levels: $27,600)

Are there any other benefits besides salary?

Percentage of college grads with employer-provided health care (private sector):

  • 2002: just under 70%
  • 1990: just under 80%

Versus percentage of high school only grads with employer-provided health care (private sector):

  • 2002: just under 40%
  • 1990: just under 50%

Percentage of college grads with employer-provided pension benefits (private sector):

  • 2002: just under 50%
  • 1990: just above 40%

Versus percentage of high school only grads with employer-provided pension benefits (private sector):

  • 2002: 20%
  • 1990: just above 20%

Where the facts are from:

Other resources:

Updated, Summer 2006

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