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Return on Investment for Some College, No Degree

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October 16, 2013

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Return on Investment for Some College, No Degree

A recent release from The Hamilton Project analyzes the lifetime earnings of those who complete some college but not a two- or four-year degree. Researchers Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney find that these individuals' lifetime earnings are about $100,000 more than the earnings of those who finished their education with a high school diploma.

They calculate the average annual return on the educational investment for those who completed some college as 9.1 percent. According to Greenstone and Looney, this is more than 3 percent higher than average stock market returns and 7 percent higher than the return from Treasury bonds.

Unfortunately, the data sources used for this analysis do not delve into whether those with some college but no degree had earned a credential such as a postsecondary certificate or an industry-recognized certification. The National Center for Education Statistics' Interagency Working Group on Expanded Measures of Enrollment and Attainment (GEMEnA) is developing items on postsecondary certificates, industry-recognized certifications and licenses to add to federal surveys, so hopefully future research will be able to tell us more about the "some college" population.

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