We campaign a lot about the value of education through our Just Cause effort simply because the facts are startling. No matter how you slice it, education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. In 2012, 15.1% of America lived in poverty. What impact does educational attainment have on moving individuals and communities out of poverty? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are Five Fast Facts about educational attainment that you might not have known.
- Median Earnings of College Graduates Are Nearly Double High School Graduates. The median weekly earning of a person holding a Bachelor's degree is roughly is roughly $1100, compared to just $600 for high school graduates. And, weekly earnings drop to just over $400 for non high school graduates.
- Unemployment is Nearly Double for Non-College Graduates. The unemployment rate nearly doubles - from 4.2% to 8.3% - for people not earning at least a four year degree. And, it increases to over 12% for those not graduating from high school.
- A Four Year College Degree More Than Doubles Average Lifetime Earnings. A college graduate can expect to earn just over $1 million in a lifetime of employment, while high school graduates can expect to earn roughly $450K.
- Education is a Better Investment. There rate of return on a college investment over a lifetime is roughly 15%, compared to 7% in the stock market, 3% in gold, or 2% in housing.
- The Rate of Poverty Dramatically Increases Without a College Degree. The percentage of Americans living in poverty without a college degree is roughly 18%. For college graduates, only 4% live in poverty.
When reviewing data such as these, the truth is, the cost of not going to college is absurdly high in America. The value of a college degree has shown time and time again to perform as the gold standard for employment, earnings, and paths to prosperity. And, if these data are to be taken literally, then the greatest challenge we have is increasing access to high quality education through programs, initiatives, and grants.