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Educational Advancement

There is no greater financial investment in one's future than a college degree. While this viewpoint has its critics, the reality is the value of a degree has never been greater. Despite public questions about a degree's worth, the pay gap between college graduates and those without a degree reached a high in 2013, even with the slow recovery from the most severe recession in seventy-five years. According to new data, based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute, Americans with four-year college degrees are not only equipped for a fulfilling adult and professional life but made 98 percent more an hour on average than those without a degree. And, the wage gap is only increasing, up from 89 percent five years ago, 85 percent a decade earlier, and 64 percent in the early 1980s.College graduates are also more likely to be employed full-time than their less-educated counterparts, and are less likely to be unemployed, 4 percent versus 12 percent, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.Liberal arts graduates are not excluded from this reality. The vast majority with degrees in the humanities and social sciences are employed, and at salaries significantly higher than those having earned only a high school diploma. Putting the cost of college in perspective, 30 percent of students are earning their degrees at institutions with annual tuitions from $6,000 to $9,000, often at regional campuses like mine where tuition is at the low end of the range. Students attending universities where tuition exceeds $45,000 only account for 3 percent of undergraduates nationwide.When it comes to financing even an affordable degree. Unless the diverse students of our nation see the value in a degree, and have the opportunity to succeed academically and complete their degrees, none of the nation's goals for increasing numbers of college graduates are attainable, or even meaningful.

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