Loan debt, low salaries make college education worth less, grads say

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Loan debt, low salaries make college education worth less, grads say

More than half of college graduates expect a lower return on investment from their education than college graduates a decade ago, according to a national survey released Tuesday.

The graduates questioned for the survey cited high student debt and lower salaries as the primary reasons for the value decline. The poor outlook increased among wealthier graduates who responded, with 64 percent of those making more than $100,000 annually believing that the return on a degree today is less than 10 to 15 years ago.

The 2015 College Degree Investment Survey conducted by Nielsen for education technology company Greenwood Hall, included responses collected from from more than 2,000 adults last month.

Nationally, student loan debt has grown to exceed $1 trillion, with the average debt load per borrower reaching $23,800 in 2013. Georgia ranked 37th in the nation, with an average student loan debt of $24,517 last year for borrowers.

In the Southern region, which includes Georgia and 14 other states, 51 percent percent of graduates polled for the survey valued a college education lower than years ago, a slightly better view than the 55 percent of graduates polled nationally who felt the same way.

The survey highlights the ongoing national debate over whether a college education is worth it.

There is a lot of data that suggests post-secondary education continues to provide a powerful return on investment and is the bridge to meaningful career opportunities, said John Hall, chief executive officer of Greenwood Hall. “What this survey suggests is that schools need to maximize their perceived value.”

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