From the WSJ:
Owning a home may not be worth as much as you think.
For years, home ownership was touted as a safe path to professional and financial success. Homeowners, it has long been argued, would be able to build solid portfolios that would earn them far more than their renting counterparts.
OK, I rewrote that, substituting stuff about owning a home vs. renting for getting a college degree. Here's the exact quote from Mary Pilon.
A college education may not be worth as much as you think.
For years, higher education was touted as a safe path to professional and financial success. Graduates, it has long been argued, would be able to build solid careers that would earn them far more than their high-school educated counterparts.
She goes on to argue why the $800,000 lifetime earnings college premium mentioned in a 2002 Census report probably overstates the true average earnings premium. Pilon mentions work by Mark Scheinder who, after examining actual data and adjusting for tax payments, employment breaks, and discounting puts the number closer to $280,000.
It's always important to consider the costs of going to college in addition to the benefits. There's nothing magical about getting a college education. It's not for everybody.
But it's also important to realize that the college premium does not just measure value added by a college education. It also important to realize that people with more innate ability are also more likely to graduate from college, making a diploma in part a signal of ability.