Once again, a local pundit is raising questions about the value of a college degree. As usual, the editorial focuses on the pure economic value-added of a college education and ignores the facts that in general, college grads are healthier, donate more to charity, prepare their kids better for school, volunteer more, rely less on public assistance, and pay more taxes.
For the sake of argument, lets set aside the many “other” significant benefits and focus solely on economics — in this case, income.
In a previous TGIF, we learned that in 2010, the median annual income of Wisconsin adults (age 25+) with a high school degree, but no college, was $7,869 higher than those without a high school diploma. Now, lets take a look at college grads.
How much higher was the 2010 median annual income for Wisconsin residents with a bachelor’s degree (no MS, MA, JD, or PHD) than those who only completed high school?
In 2010, Wisconsin residents with a bachelor’s degree had a median income $17,192 (+/- $1,191) higher than those with only a high school diploma.
In addition,Wisconsin residents, age 25 years and older, with an advanced college degree (graduate or professional) had a median income $15,428 (+/- $1,911) higher than those with only a bachelor’s degree.
Source: U.S. Census, 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) 1 year estimates.
It is important to consider margins of error when using ACS data. In this case, we can be 90 percent confident that the actual difference is between $16,001 and $18,383 or $17,192 (+/- $1,191). The Census provides several free useful handbooks on how to properly use the ACS.