College, Maybe Not So Lucrative

In January President Obama said in his state of the union address that “the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education.” This may be true in an aggregate sense but it’s apparently not always true on a personal level. Despite attending college, many Americans are still pretty poor. According to an article by Sara Lipka in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

In 2008, among Americans ages 18 to 26 whose total household income was near or below the federal poverty level, 47 percent were or had been enrolled in college, compared with 42 percent in 2000. Eleven percent of them had earned a degree, a proportion roughly equivalent to that eight years ago, according to the report, which is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

It’s a little unclear how this happens. A lot of the poverty appears to come from people who merely attended college briefly and never earned a degree. But what’s happening with that eleven percent of people with college degrees? This may be a reflection of the economy, though the numbers date from 2008, or it may indicate that college isn’t the big income booster it used to be.

Read the report about income and college attendance, by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, here.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer