The Value of a College Education: It's Not Just ROI

Here at College Factual, we talk a lot about the value of a college degree. Specifically, how students should go about choosing the college with the best return on investment for them. Much of our focus is on affordability and outcomes, which reflects what is often top of mind for students and their parents. However, while ROI has become one of the main focuses in measuring the value of a degree, there are many other benefits of a college education, some of which may surprise you.

For example, college graduates are less likely to get divorced, and more likely to raise healthy children. They also experience better health themselves: one study claims that college graduates can expect to live five years longer than those who did not complete high school.

Another study reports that college graduates are more likely to volunteer, have a greater interest in political issues, and are more likely to vote.  They are also less likely to experience a need for public assistance programs.

Although many college grads are underemployed, they are still less likely to be unemployed than non-grads. And even when stuck in jobs that don’t require a degree, college grads are more likely to be employed full time, and often get paid more than non-grads.

According to one poll, college grads on average report being happy and satisfied in their work, with the prestige of the college having absolutely no bearing on their satisfaction with their degree.

One caveat: although college grads are generally happier and better-paid than non-grads, their reported levels of happiness and well-being decrease when burdened with debt.

College debt also has a big impact, on the negative side. Only 2 percent of those with $20,000 to $40,000 in undergraduate loans reported they were "thriving.

Calculating the ROI of a college degree is not easy as there are many intangible benefits to a higher education that are incredible difficult to measure. How can you put a price tag on personal enlightenment, better health and human relationships? While preparing for a successful career should be one of the primary aims of a college degree, it is not the only reason for pursuing an education.

So if you’ve got the grades and the interest, go to college! However, be wise about your choice of school and of major. Don’t go into mountains of debt for a degree that won’t pay you back over the long run. Struggling to make loan payments is not going to lend to your happiness, health or prosperity.

Choose a college that’s a good fit for you and comes with a price tag you can afford. There are many tools out there, including the ones found right here on College Factual that can help!