Study: How Much Money is a College Degree Worth?

Study: How Much Money is a College Degree Worth?

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Richard Piatt ReportingThe value of a college degree is hard to pin down, but a local political think-tank has tried. You may be surprised to hear that most Utah graduates earn less than 30-thousand dollars their first year out of school. And, that a significant number of grads at a couple universities don't get paying jobs at all.

School spirit is easy to see at athletic events. At the Las Vegas bowl Thursday, BYU fans were proud to let their colors show. What you don't hear colleges and universities brag about much is how their graduates do, financially, after school is over. The Utah Foundation took on that question in a survey of 2004 graduates.

Richard Pak, Utah Foundation Research Analyst: "We're surprised how many students make less than 30-thousand dollars a year a year after graduation."

The survey found most 2004 graduates found jobs paying 30-thousand dollars a year or less this year. By university, a vast majority of graduates at both BYU and Southern Utah University are earning 30-thousand or less right now.

Just over half the graduates from Utah State and the U of U earned that much; just under half earned 30-thousand or more.

The highest paying jobs came to those who graduated from UVSC, Westminster College and Weber State; in fact Weber had graduates this year earning 80-thousand or higher.

Another interesting fact is that graduates who choose to stay in Utah earn less than those who get jobs out of state. In fact, the study finds 41 percent of 'stayers', graduates who stay, earn less than 30-thousand dollars a year. Conversely, only 14 percent of graduates who stay earn more than 50-thousand dollars a year.

One interpretation is that grads who leave trade a higher salary for the convenience of staying.

Richard Pak, Utah Foundation Research Analyst: "Convenience was a lot less factor for those who left after college. Whereas those who stayed, convenience was a big factor."

Another interesting fact: Some female grads choose to be homemakers even though they have a degree. They study shows more grads from BYU, SUU, and UVSC became homemakers after college, fewer from USU, Weber State, the U of U and Westminister college.

Salary information is much different for those who get graduate degrees.

The bottom line here is more employers in Utah expect a college education, but fewer employers are paying more than 30-thousand dollars a year to that undergrad degree holder.

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