As higher quality data on student outcomes has become available, studies have attempted to quantify the financial value of a college degree across different dimensions and contexts (Webber, 2014; Webber, 2016; Itzkowitz, 2021; Cooper, 2021; Miller and Akabas, 2022).

Using newly available data, this note demonstrates an increase in the returns to attending college for most students in recent decades. I find that, after controlling for the school attended, median student earnings ten years after entering college were significantly higher for those who started college during the 2007-08 academic year than they were for those who started in 1996-97. Even when adjusting for increases in tuition over this time, the return on investment (ROI) increased by three percent for the typical student. There is, however, significant heterogeneity in these trends, with roughly 30% of students attending schools where ROI prospects diminished.

Read the full article on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System website.