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ERIC Number: ED540267
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Dec
Pages: 41
Abstractor: ERIC
The Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees: A State and National Level Analysis
Zaback, Katie; Carlson, Andy; Crellin, Matt
State Higher Education Executive Officers
In response to the declining international ranking in the percentage of young adults with a postsecondary credential, President Obama, philanthropic and policy organizations, and states have set bold goals essentially to double the number of postsecondary degrees and certificates produced in the next 8 to 13 years. Behind this commitment to increased attainment is a value proposition for policymakers and the general public that achieving these goals will lead to social and economic benefits for individuals, states, and the nation. The movement to increase the percentage of U.S. citizens with a high quality postsecondary degree or credential has proceeded alongside a prolonged economic downturn in which state appropriations have fallen below enrollment growth and inflation. While the relationship between education and income is strong, incomes vary significantly among the types of degrees by level and discipline and within each state. It is beneficial for policymakers to understand market conditions as they make investments in higher education. This report adds to the dialogue about the value of a college degree in two ways. First, on a national level it examines trends in degree production in terms of the median income associated with different degrees. The data suggest that both student choice and institutional degree production are being influenced by higher wage premiums. Second, this report provides state-level data on the wage premiums associated with degree attainment across seven broad discipline categories, in effect, taking the national-level analyses down to the state level. The report shows how the value of a degree varies across states and across disciplines within a state, providing states with both an overview of national trends and a more detailed look at the degrees produced and the economic value of those degrees within each state. Appended are: (1) Carnegie 2010 Classifications and SHEEO Groupings; (2) Discipline Category-CIP-FOD Crosswalk; (3) Median Wage Salary Income by Discipline Category; and (4) Completions by Level. (Contains 13 charts, 2 tables, and 10 footnotes.)
State Higher Education Executive Officers. 3035 Center Green Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80301. Tel: 303-541-1600; Fax: 303-541-1639; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation
Authoring Institution: State Higher Education Executive Officers
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A