background_fid_0.jpg
STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.
Families & Community

How much is too much to pay for college? Maybe anything at all.

infographic showing almost half of people working low wage jobs have some college experience
Economic Policy Institute
/

Sure, there are lots of good reasons to go to college. People can emerge on the other side of these four (ish) years more independent, more enlightened, and more connected. 

But let's talk about jobs. For all the other benefits that come along with a college education, the possibility of getting a good job after it is important when the price tag averages at least $10,0000 a year. (That's at a public community college. A public four-year university is around $19,000 a year).  College is still sold as the primary tool for economic and social mobility.

But is it really? It's true that college graduates are likely to climb up the income ladder-up to 5 times more likely

It's also true that there are many people who paid to go to college and are stuck working low-wage jobs.

The Economic Policy Institute says almost half of low-wage workers have some college experience or a college degree. 

If we want to use a dead-horse of a term from the housing market crash, that means millions of people are "underwater" on their education loans. It's not a perfect analogy, but of all the people who invested in their education as a way to get ahead economically, plenty are working jobs for the same wage they could earn before they went to school. 

We're looking for stories to help us explore how college education and economic mobility are playing out around the state right now. If college was a good investment for you or if you're not sure you're getting what you paid for, we want to hear from you. You can share your story here, in the comments or on facebook.