Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

New Report Confirms That Higher Education Benefits Students and Society

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

New Report Confirms That Higher Education Benefits Students and Society

Article excerpt

Sandra Baum, Jennifer Ma and Kathleen Payea of the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center released a document in September titled Education Pays 2010: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society as part of the center's Trends in Higher Education Series.

The report provides crystal clear evidence that higher education makes a huge difference in the lives of degree holders in many ways, including finances, and that persistent disparities in college participation and completion are leaving large segments of the American population behind. The uneven rates of enrollment and completion in higher education across different segments of the American population should be a critical concern to our nation.

The evidence is overwhelming that higher education improves people's lives, makes our economy more efficient, and contributes to a more equitable society. The existing gaps in participation and success are detrimental not only to individual lives, but also to society as a whole.

As an educator, 1 see the benefits in broad terms. Higher education has the potential to transform people's lives in positive ways by broadening their horizons, helping them develop critical and analytical thinking skills, fostering an appreciation for diversity and seeing multiple perspectives on issues, and enhancing their future job satisfaction.

Education Pays 2010 found numerous nonmonetary benefits to individuals who earned bachelor's degrees. It confirmed mv view that higher education enhances job satisfaction. People with bachelor's degrees and higher are more likely to be very satisfied with their work, and they report that their work seems important and øves them a sense of accomplishment.

The researchers also found that college-educated adults are more likely than others to receive health insurance and pensions from their employers. College-educated adults are more likely to be active citizens, donating their time to volunteer activities and voting, than high school graduates. Additionally, college-educated adults smoke less, exercise more, are more likely to breastfeed their babies, and are more likely to have lower obesity rates. When the health risks of smoking became public, and ever since, smoking among college graduates has been on the decline.

Thus people holding college degrees are more likely to have healthier lifestyles than others - and this reduces health care costs both for the individuals themselves and for society.

Level of education is also correlated with engaging in educational activities with their children. The percentage of parents who read to their children, for example, is positively related to their own level of education - the more education parents have, the more they read to their children. Their children are better prepared for school than children of less-educated parents.

In today's world, many people analyze the benefits of higher education only in terms of dollars and cents. Does a college education pay off financially? With the current cost of tuition and a contracting job market, that question is legitimate. If one were to focus specifically on the question of the financial benefits of higher education, the answer would be an unequivocal "Yes."

That affirmative answer applies not only to the individuals themselves who earn the degree, but åe financial payoff is to society at large. Higher education obviously provides a great return on the investment. As the report states, federal, state and local governments enjoy increased tax revenues from college graduates and spend less on income support programs for åem, providing a direct financial return from investments in postsecondary education.

In addition, social support programs such as the Food Stamp Program and åe National School Lunch Program were far less likely to support college graduates (about I percent) than high school graduates (8 percent) in åe year 2008. Incarceration costs are also far lower for college graduates åan for high school graduates. …

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