The economics of higher education

Getting your degree still pays off in the long run.

Is the Cost of College a Bargain?
For more than two decades, as the cost of college has climbed at twice the rate of inflation, critics have argued that bloated bureaucracies, overpaid faculty, and unnecessary amenities are inflating tuition. Yet in a new book—Why Does College Cost So Much?—economists Robert Archibald and David Feldman argue that college isn’t actually overpriced.

The reason: although the total cost of attending an in-state, four-year public university has nearly doubled to $16,140 since 2000, the benefits that come with it have increased considerably, too. Indeed, over the same time period, the difference in wages between those who attend college and those who don’t has climbed by 20 percent.

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