EVIDENCE POINTS: Payout for flagship states is 10 percent larger than published data indicates – The Hechinger Report | Vette Leader

Students who graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder will actually earn about $8,000 more per year than students who graduate from less elite four-year universities in the state. Government data shows the additional payout is half that, about $4,000. Recognition: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

How much is a college degree worth? Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce calculates that a bachelor’s degree is worth an average lifetime income of $2.8 million. Not too shabby, but we’ve all heard stories of college grads mired in student debt, living at home, and unable to get beyond a barista. Career prospects depend heavily on which college you attend and what you study.

A few states, from Florida to Washington, have created college websites for high school students and their parents to show what young graduates are actually earning in the workplace. It can help families decide between institutions and even compare the financial payoff between a business degree and a journalism degree (heaven forbid!).

But a new study finds that those salary figures, designed to motivate students to go to college and study in lucrative fields, are off — sometimes significantly. A July 2022 analysis by economists at the US Census Bureau and the University of Michigan found that the financial payout for attending the most prestigious public universities in each state, known as flagships, was actually 10 percent higher than what the states published salary figures.

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