The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The New York Fed engages with individuals, households and businesses in the Second District and maintains an active dialogue in the region. The Bank gathers and shares regional economic intelligence to inform our community and policy makers, and promotes sound financial and economic decisions through community development and education programs.
In our last post, we showed that the cost of college has increased sharply in recent years due to the rising opportunity cost of attending school and the steady rise in tuition. This steep increase in the cost of college has once again raised questions about whether college is “worth it.” In this post, we weigh the economic benefits of a bachelor’s degree against the costs to estimate the return to college, providing an update to our 2014 study. We find that the average rate of return for a bachelor’s degree has edged down slightly in recent years due to rising costs, but remains high at around 14 percent, easily surpassing the threshold for a good investment. Thus, while the rising cost of college appears to have eroded the value of a bachelor’s degree somewhat, college remains a good investment for most people.
College is much more expensive than it used to be. Tuition for a bachelor’s degree has more than tripled from an (inflation-adjusted) average of about $5,000 per year in the 1970s to around $18,000 today. For many parents and prospective students, this high and rising tuition has raised concerns about whether getting a college degree is still worth it—a question we addressed in a 2014 study. In this post, we update that study, estimating the cost of college in terms of both out-of-pocket expenses, like tuition, and opportunity costs, the wages one gives up to attend school. We find that the cost of college has increased sharply over the past several years, though tuition increases are not the primary driver. Rather, opportunity costs have increased substantially as the wages of those without a college degree have climbed due to a strong labor market. In a follow-up post, we will consider whether college is still “worth it” by weighing the benefits relative to the costs to estimate the return to a college degree.
Jaison R. Abel, Tony Davis, Richard Deitz, and Edison Reyes
Community colleges frequently work with local employers to help shape the training of students and incumbent workers. This type of engagement has become an increasingly important strategy for community colleges to help students acquire the right skills for available jobs, and also helps local employers find and retain workers with the training they need. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted a survey of community colleges in New York State with the goal of documenting the amount and types of these kinds of activities taking place. Our report, Employer Engagement by Community Colleges in New York State, summarizes the findings of our survey.
Amid dialogue about the soaring student loan burden, questions arise about how educational characteristics (school type, selectivity, and major) affect disparities in post-college labor market outcomes. In this post, we specifically explore the impact of such school and major choices on employment, earnings, and upward economic mobility. Insight into determinants of economic disparity is key for understanding long-term consumption and inequality patterns. In addition, this gives us a window into factors that could be used to ameliorate income inequality and promote economic mobility.
Rajashri Chakrabarti, Nicole Gorton, Michelle Jiang, and Wilbert van de Klaauw
This post is the second in a two-part series on student loan default behavior. In the first post, we studied how educational characteristics (school type and selectivity, graduation, and major) and family background relate to the incidence of student loan default. In this post, we investigate whether default behavior has varied across cohorts of borrowers as the labor market evolved over time. Specifically, does the ability of student loan holders to repay their loans vary with the state of the labor market? Does the type of education these students received make any difference to this relationship?
Rajashri Chakrabarti, Nicole Gorton, Michelle Jiang, and Wilbert van der Klaauw
This post seeks to understand how educational characteristics (school type and selectivity, graduation status, major) and family background relate to the incidence of student loan default. Student indebtedness has grown substantially, increasing by 170 percent between 2006 and 2016. In addition, the fraction of students who default on those loans has grown considerably. Of students who left college in 2010 and 2011, 28 percent defaulted on their student loans within five years, compared with 19 percent of those who left school in 2005 and 2006. Since defaulting on student loans can have serious consequences for credit scores and, by extension, the ability to purchase a home and take out other loans, it’s critical to understand how college and family characteristics correspond to default rates.
A Conversation with Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz
With the 2017 college graduation season in full swing, we thought it would be helpful to take stock of the job prospects for recent college graduates. Is now a good time to be graduating from college? Publications editor Trevor Delaney caught up with Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz, two economists in our Research and Statistics Group, to discuss some of their work on the labor market for recent college graduates.
Rajashri Chakrabarti, Nicole Gorton, and Wilbert van der Klaauw
Evidence overwhelmingly shows that the average earnings premium to having a college education is high and has risen over the past several decades, in part because of a decline in real average earnings for those without a college degree. In addition to high private returns, there are substantial social returns to having a well-educated citizenry and workforce. A new development that may have important longer-term implications for education investment and for the broader economy is a significant change in the financing of higher education. State funding has declined markedly over the past two decades, a trend that has coincided with a significant increase in college tuition. To cover the rising cost of college, students and families have increased their reliance on student loans, funding a greater share of an increasing overall college cost. While the federal student loan program has undoubtedly helped mitigate the impact of higher costs on college access and enrollment, more and more students now leave college with higher amounts of debt. Given these trends, it is critical to understand whether holding student debt has affected young Americans’ later life outcomes, such as homeownership.
Rajashri Chakrabarti, Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert van der Klaauw
An examination of recent developments in household borrowing was the focus of a press briefing held this morning at the New York Fed. President William Dudley offered opening remarks on the latest developments, then Bank economists briefed the press on their analysis of household indebtedness, placing a spotlight on student loans. Their research is based on the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel—which is based on Equifax credit report data—as well as data from the National Student Clearinghouse. The presentation contained three components: (1) an analysis how aggregate household debt today differs from its 2008 peak, (2) new evidence on student debt growth, delinquency and repayment, and (3) an investigation of the relationship between homeownership, student debt, and educational attainment.
Nora Fitzpatrick, Laura Pilossoph, Anika Pratt, and Aysegul Sahin
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently hosted “The Evolution of Work,” a conference that brought together thought leaders from academia, government, industry, labor, and the nonprofit sector to explore how the nature of work is evolving, including the expanding role of technology, shifts in employee work arrangements and employer-employee relationships, and the effects of these changes on workforce and community development strategies. The gathering was cosponsored by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Freelancers Union.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
Economic Research Tracker
Liberty Street Economics is now available on the iPhone® and iPad® and can be customized by economic research topic or economist.
We encourage your comments and queries on our posts and will publish them (below the post) subject to the following guidelines:
Please be brief: Comments are limited to 1500 characters.
Please be quick: Comments submitted after COB on Friday will not be published until Monday morning.
Please be aware: Comments submitted shortly before or during the FOMC blackout may not be published until after the blackout.
Please be on-topic and patient: Comments are moderated and will not appear until they have been reviewed to ensure that they are substantive and clearly related to the topic of the post. We reserve the right not to post any comment, and will not post comments that are abusive, harassing, obscene, or commercial in nature. No notice will be given regarding whether a submission will or will not be posted.
The LSE editors ask authors submitting a post to the blog to confirm that they have no conflicts of interest as defined by the American Economic Association in its Disclosure Policy. If an author has sources of financial support or other interests that could be perceived as influencing the research presented in the post, we disclose that fact in a statement prepared by the author and appended to the author information at the end of the post. If the author has no such interests to disclose, no statement is provided. Note, however, that we do indicate in all cases if a data vendor or other party has a right to review a post.