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Contact: Kathleen Thames
Jan. 9, 2013
(337) 482-6397
New Study: College Degree Boosts Earning Potential

A new report shows how an investment in higher education pays off in Louisiana.

Bottom line: a postsecondary degree typically yields a higher paycheck.

That’s according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Its findings are in The Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees: A State and National Analysis. Calculations are based on wage data gathered for 2006-10 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report shows that, in Louisiana, a person with a high school diploma earns an average of $27,459 annually. But average annual wages for college graduates are substantially higher. Someone with an associate’s degree, for example, earns $35,267, which is 28 percent more.

The average salary for someone who holds a bachelor’s degree is $43,687 – 59 percent more than a high school graduate. The average annual salary for someone with a graduate or professional degree is $54,917, which is twice as much as a high school graduate earns.

“There are all sorts of ways that higher education benefits individuals, communities, states and the nation. But this comparison of earnings clearly illustrates a fundamental reward for a person who chooses to continue his education beyond high school,” said Dr. E. Joseph Savoie, president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The correlation between higher education and higher earnings applies to the vast majority of individuals in all 50 states, despite variation across states and academic disciplines.

According to a national analysis, those who obtain bachelor’s degrees have a median income of $50,360, compared to a median of $29,423 for people with high school diplomas. An associate’s degree leads to a median income of $38,607, more than $9,000 higher than a high school diploma. Those with a graduate degree have a median income of $68,064, which is 35.2 percent more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

“Rising costs to attend college and uncertainties about the state and national economies may have some high school students questioning the value of a college degree. This latest study confirms that a college degree is worth the time and money a person invests,” Savoie said.

 “In addition to encouraging more high school graduates to seek a college diploma, it is important to realize that there are about 600,000 adults in Louisiana who have obtained college credit but did not earn a postsecondary degree.”
Savoie said it’s not too late for many of them to them to reach their original goal of graduating from college.

Beginning next month, for example, the nine public institutions in the University of Louisiana System will begin accepting applications for a bachelor of arts degree in organizational leadership, a 100 percent online degree. This particular degree is offered jointly by the nine universities.

Students who enroll in the organizational leadership degree program can choose from nine distinctive concentrations:
•  health and wellness at UL Lafayette;
•  cultural and arts institutions at the University of New Orleans;
•  disaster relief management at Southeastern Louisiana University;
•  financial services at the University of Louisiana at Monroe;
•  food service strategies and operations at Nicholls State University;
•  human relations at Grambling State University;
•  project team leadership at Louisiana Tech University;
•  public safety administration at Northwestern State University; and
•  strategic global communication at McNeese State University.

To enter the program, students must be at least 25 years old and have completed 60 hours of college credit, including general education courses. But students with less than 60 hours will have opportunities to earn credit online or through prior learning assessment that gauges skills learned on the job.
“This system-wide organizational leadership degree is a chance for individuals to finish what they started. Having more college graduates will also benefit Louisiana’s workforce,” Savoie said. 
For more information about the new degree program, go to www.YourCaLLla.org and www.ulsystem.edu/ONEdegreeNINEuniversities.

Document last revised Wednesday, January 9, 2013 6:33 PM

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