Last updated on: 6/22/2023 | Author:


The background and pro and con arguments were written by staff based upon input from the following sources.

1US Census Bureau, "After a Recent Upswing, College Enrollment Declines, Census Bureau Reports,", Sep. 3, 2013
2Marvin Lazerson, "The Disappointments of Success: Higher Education after World War II," The History of Higher Education, Eds. Harold Wechsler, Lester F. Goodchild, and Linda Eisenmann, 2007
3John R. Thelin, A History of American Education, 2004
4Amanda M. Fairbanks, "2011 College Grads Moving Home, Saddled with Historic Levels of Student Loan Debt,", May 13, 2011
5Richard Vedder, "Going to College Is a Mistake for Many,", Nov. 17, 2011
6Richard Vedder, "Twelve Inconvenient Truths about Higher Education,", Mar. 2012
7US Department of Education, "Database of Accredited Programs and Institutions,", Aug. 16, 2013
8Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney, "Is Starting College and Not Finishing Really That Bad?,", June 2013
9Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney, "Where Is the Best Place to Invest $102,000—In Stocks, Bonds, or a College Degree?,", June 25, 2011
10College Board, "Trends in College Pricing, 2011,", 2011
11Sandy Baum, Jennifer Ma, and Kathleen Pays, "Education Pays 2010: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society,", 2010
12Christian Yang, "DON’T Drop out to Do a Startup,", Jan. 2, 2013
13Lumina Foundation, "A Stronger Nation through Higher Education,", June 2013
14Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl, "Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018,", June 2010
15Marcelina Hardy, "7 Benefits of Earning a College Degree,", 2013
16Arthur Chickering, "The Seven Vectors: An Overview," (accessed Sep. 5, 2013)
17Cooperative Institutional Research Program, "1994 Nine Year Follow-Up Survey (of 1985 Freshmen)," Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 1995
1860 Minutes, "Partying and Its Benefits,", May 20, 2012
19Robert A. Hummer and Elaine M. Hernandez, "The Effect of Educational Attainment on Adult Mortality in the U.S.,", July 2013
20Brian L. Rostron, John L. Boies, and Elizabeth Arias, "Education Reporting and Classification on Death Certificates in the United States," Vital and Health Statistics,, May 2010
21Sandy Baum and Jennifer Ma, "Education Pays 2007: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society,", 2007
22 Intelligence Squared US, "Too Many Kids Go to College,", Oct. 12, 2011
23Andrew Sum, et al, "The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School: Joblessness and Jailing for High School Dropouts and the High Cost for Taxpayers,", Oct. 2009
24Rebecca Mead, "Learning by Degrees,", June 7, 2010
25Pew Research, "Is College Worth It?,", May 15, 2011
26Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, "The Real Value of a College Education,", Feb. 23, 2012
27Indiana University at Bloomington, "Internship Experiences of IUB Psychology Majors – 50+ Examples," (accessed Sep. 26, 2013)
28Clive R. Belfield, Henry M. Levin, and Rachel Rosen, "The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth,", Jan. 2012
29Derek Thompson, "What’s More Expensive Than College? Not Going to College,", Mar. 27, 2012
30Harvard Business School, "Networking," (accessed Sep. 5, 2013)
31Whitman College, "Networking," (accessed Sep. 26, 2013)
32Dylan Matthews, "Going to College Is Worth It – Even if You Drop out,", June 10, 2013
33College Board, "Average Published Undergraduate Charges by Sector, 2012-13,", 2013
34Darrius Mind, "Best Day of My Life,", May 4, 2009
35Meta Brown and Sydnee Caldwell, "Young Student Loan Borrowers Retreat from Housing and Auto Markets,", Apr. 17, 2013
37Chris Denhart, "How the $1.2 Trillion College Debt Crisis Is Crippling Students, Parents and the Economy,", Aug. 7, 2013
37US Congress Joint Economic Committee, "The Causes and Consequences of Increasing Student Debt,", June 2013
38Blake Ellis, "Student Debt Delays Spending, Saving – and Marriage,", May 9, 2013
39Robin Marantz Henig, "What Is It about 20-Somethings?,", Aug, 18, 2010
40Andrew Sum, "The Nation’s Recent College Graduates Face Significant Labor Market Problems,", Oct. 19, 2010
41Heidi Shierholz, Natalie Sabadish, and Nicholas Finio, "The Class of 2013: Young Graduates Still Face Dim Job Prospects,", Apr. 10, 2013
42Jordan Weissmann, "44% of Young College Grads Are Underemployed (and That’s Good News),", June 28, 2013
43Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Fastest Growing Occupations, 2010 and Projected 2020,", Jan. 2012
44Glen Stansberry, "12 Business Founders Who Succeeded without a College Degree,", Oct. 8, 2010
45Mark Schneider, "Colleges Waste Millions on Students Who Drop Out,", Aug. 19, 2010
46Harvard Graduate School of Education, "Pathways to Prosperity,", Feb. 2011
47National Conference of State Legislatures, "Reconsider Funding for Colleges and Universities,", Nov. 2010
48New America Foundation, "Federal Higher Education Programs – Overview,", July 10, 2013
49State Higher Education Executive Officers, "State Higher Education Finance,", 2012
50Mark Schneider and Lu (Michelle) Yin, "The High Cost of Low Graduation Rates: How Much Does Dropping Out of College Really Cost?,", Aug. 2011
51Federal Reserve Bank of New York, "Student Loan Debt by Age Group,", Mar. 29, 2013
52Tamar Lewin, "Child’s Education, but Parents’ Crushing Loans,", Nov. 11, 2012
53Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, "Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing,", 2011
54Anthony P. Carnevale, Tamara Jayasundera, and Andrew R. Hanson, "Along the Way to the B.A.,", Sep. 2012
55Felix W. Ortiz, III, "The Middle-Skill Issue,", Sep. 25, 2013
56Craig Brandon, "With College, Only the Motivated Need Apply,", Nov. 17, 2011
57NPR, "A Lack of Rigor Leaves Students 'Adrift' in College,", Feb. 9, 2011
58Eric Gorski, "45% of Students Don’t Learn Much in College,", Jan. 18, 2011
59Hart Research Associates, "It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success,", Apr. 10, 2013
60McKinsey & Company, "Voice of the Graduate,", May 2013
61Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "Report: Private Student Loan Borrowers Face Roadblocks to Repayment,", Oct. 16, 2012
62National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), "The Student Loan ‘Debt Bomb’: America’s Next Mortgage-Style Economic Crisis,", Feb. 7, 2012
63William J. Bennett, "The Looming Crisis of Student Loan Debt,", Dec. 6, 2012
64Joshua Zumbrun and Craig Torres, "Bankers Warn Fed of Farm, Student Loan Bubbles Echoing Subprime,", May 7, 2013
65Walter Hamilton, "Student-Loan Delinquency Rate Hits Danger Zone, Report Says,", Jan. 30, 2013
66Phil Oliff, Vincent Palacios, Ingrid Johnson, and Michael Leachman, "Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come,", Mar. 19, 2013
67Phillip Elliott, "College Costs Keep Rising Faster Than Inflation,", Aug. 13, 2013
68Rebekah Coleman, "Bachelor’s Degree: Generation Y’s High School Diploma,", Mar. 18, 2013
69Daniel B. Smith, "The University Has No Clothes,", May 1, 2011
70Steve Rhode, "4 out of 10 Actually Were Able to Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy—but Most Never Try,", Jan. 7, 2013
71Joe Valenti and David A. Bergeron, "How Qualified Student Loans Could Protect Borrowers and Taxpayers,", Aug. 20, 2013
72William Hare, "Ideological Indoctrination and Teacher Education,", 2007
73Scott Jaschik, "Moving Further to the Left,", Oct. 24, 2012
74David Horowitz, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America>, 2007
75John H. Pryor, Kevin Eagan, Laura Palucki Blake, Sylvia Hurtado, Jennifer Berden, and Matthew H. Case, "The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2012,", 2012
76University of Florida Counseling & Wellness Center, "Stress and College Students," (accessed Sep. 4, 2013)
77Harmony Wheeler, "UCLA Study Explores Cause and Effect of College Stress,", Feb. 16, 2011
78President & Fellows of Harvard College, "About Harvard College," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
79College of William & Mary, "History & Traditions," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
80Yale University, "History," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
81Trustees of Princeton University, "Princeton’s History," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
82Columbia University, "History," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
83Brown University, "History," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
84Trustees of Dartmouth College, "Dartmouth at a Glance," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
85Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, "Rutgers History," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
86University of Pennsylvania, "Penn’s Heritage," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
87Harold Perkin, "History of Universities," The History of Higher Education, Eds. Harold Wechsler, Lester F. Goodchild, and Linda Eisenmann, 2007
88Yale University, Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of Yale University in New Haven, 1701-1910, Jan. 1, 1910
89Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "MIT Highlights Timeline," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
90Lester F. Goodchild, "History of Higher Education in the United States," The History of Higher Education, Eds. Harold Wechsler, Lester F. Goodchild, and Linda Eisenmann, 2007
91Douglas Sloan, "Science, Society, and the Curriculum," The History of Higher Education, Eds. Harold Wechsler, Lester F. Goodchild, and Linda Eisenmann, 2007
92Roger L. Geiger, "The Era of Multipurpose Colleges in American Higher Education, 1850-1890," The History of Higher Education, Eds. Harold Wechsler, Lester F. Goodchild, and Linda Eisenmann, 2007
93National Science Foundation, "IPEDS Institutional Characteristics Survey Tuition Data," (accessed Aug. 20, 2013)
94Martin A. Trow, "American Higher Education: Past, Present, and Future," The History of Higher Education, Eds. Harold Wechsler, Lester F. Goodchild, and Linda Eisenmann, 2007
95Title IX, "History of Title IX," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
96National Archives, "Affirmative Action: History and Rationale," (accessed Aug. 20, 2013)
97National Center for Education Statistics, "Fast Facts: Enrollment," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
98National Center for Education Statistics, "Fast Facts: Tuition Costs of Colleges and Universities," (accessed Sep. 27, 2013)
99National Center for Education Statistics, "Digest of Education Statistics,", June 1995
100Oberlin College and Conservatory, "History: Early History," (accessed Sep. 30, 2013)
101Anthony Carnevale and Nicole Smith, "Sharp Decline in Underemployment for College Graduates,", Nov. 2015
102National Center for Education Statistics, "Fast Facts: Back to School Statistics," (accessed Jan. 30, 2020)
103The Institute for College Access and Success, "Student Debt and the Class of 2014,", Oct. 2015
104Anthony P. Carnevale, Tamara Jayasundera, and Artem Gulish, "America's Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots 2016,", June 30, 2016
105Anthony P. Carnevale and Nicole Smith, "Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Proposals Could Create Millions of Jobs," Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2017
106Kevin Eagan, et al., "The American Freshman: Fifty-Year Trends, 1966-2015,", 2016
107Consumer Reports, "The Student Debt Crises: Lives on Hold," Consumer Reports, June 28, 2016
108Josh Mitchell, "Student-Loan Defaults Rose by 1.1 Million in 2016,", Mar. 14, 2017
109US Census Bureau, "Highest Educational Levels Reached by Adults in the U.S. since 1940,", Mar. 30, 2017
110US Census Bureau, "Educational Attainment in the United States, 2016,", Mar. 2017
111Sara Goldrick-Rab, Jed Richardson, and Anthony Hernandez, "Hungry and Homeless in College,", Mar. 2017
112College Board, "Tuition and Fees and Room and Board over Time, 1976-77 to 2016-17, Selected Years," (accessed Apr. 10, 2017)
113Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, "Real Median Household Income in the United States,", Sep. 13, 2016
114Kirsten Gibson, "Parents Pull Back on Help Financing Their Children's College Educations,", July 23, 2013
115Sallie Mae, "How America Pays for College 2016,", 2016
116Bureau of Labor Statistics, "The Employment Situation - December 2019,", Jan. 10, 2020
117National Center for Education Statistics, "Undergraduate Retention and Graduation Rates,", Apr. 2017
118National Center for Education Statistics, "Fast Facts: Back to School Statistics," (accessed June 6, 2016)
119The Institute for College Access and Success, "Student Debt and the Class of 2014,", Oct. 2015
120Grace Bird, "Study: College Education Can Delay Dementia,", Apr. 17, 2018
121National Association of Realtors, "Student Debt Delaying Millennial Homeownership by 7 Years,", Sep. 18, 2017
122Timothy K. Bartik and Brad K. Hershbein, "Degrees of Poverty: The Relationship between Family Income Background and the Returns to Education,", Mar. 2018
123Abigail Hess, "Here's How Much the Average Student Loan Borrower Owes When They Graduate,", Feb. 15, 2018
124National Center for Education Statistics, "Fast Facts: Back to School Statistics," (accessed May 21, 2018)
125Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System, "Consumer Credit Outstanding (Levels),", May 7, 2018
126Erin Currier, "How Generation X Could Change the American Dream,", Jan. 26, 2018
127Zack Friedman, "Student Loan Debt Statistics in 2019: A $1.5 Trillion Crisis,", Feb. 25, 2019
128Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz, "Despite Rising Costs, College Is Still a Good Investment,", June 5, 2019
129 Federal Reserve Bank of New York, "The Labor Market for Recent College Graduates,", Nov. 1, 2019
130Elissa Nadworny, "'Losing A Generation': Fall College Enrollment Plummets for 1st-Year Students,", Dec. 17, 2020
131Ann Carrns, "A Worrisome Drop in College Aid Applications,", Dec. 18, 2020
132Anthony P. Carnevale, "When Back to School Meets Stay at Home,", Jan. 13, 2021
133National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, "Overview: Spring 2023 Enrollment Estimates,", Spring 2023
134Alicia Hahn, "2023 Student Loan Debt Statistics: Average Student Loan Debt,, May 9, 2023
135Eliza Fawcett, "The Pandemic Generation Goes to College. It Has Not Been Easy.,", June 20, 2023