Office of Planning and Budgeting

Pew Center’s 5 Facts About College Graduates

With graduation season upon us, the Pew Research Center has created a roundup of “5 Facts About Today’s College Graduates.” The article draws from several national databases and surveys, including the National Center for Education Statistics, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Pew surveys.

1.       Only about 56% of students actually graduate within six years. Students at four-year, private, nonprofits schools have the highest graduation rates (72.9%) while those at public, two-year schools are least likely to complete their degree program (39.9 %) within six years.

2.       Business tops the list of most popular major, again. Since 1980-81, business has been the most common major. In 2011-12, one fifth of Americans earning bachelor’s degrees majored in business.

3.       Many recent graduates have trouble finding full-time jobs that require a college degree. In 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 44 percent of recent graduates were underemployed (i.e., working jobs that did not require a college degree). Of that group, only 36 percent made more than $45,000 per year.

4.       Despite this, college graduates continue to make more than people without degrees. A Pew study of Millennials who worked full-time found that the median salary for college graduates was $45,500, while those with some college made just $30,000 and those with a high school diploma made just $28,000. The gap has continued to widen over the years, as described in our recent post.

5.       Graduates still say that college was worth it. 88 percent of Millennial college graduates believe their degree either has paid off (62 percent) or will pay off in the future (26 percent). Among those with advanced degrees, 96 percent say their education was worth the investment.

To read the full Pew Center article, please click here.

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