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Is college worth the money? A new report holds some clues for Colorado students.

In a blurry action shot, one student rides a bike while others walk on a brick path lined with green trees.
Joe A Mendoza
/
Colorado State University
Students make their way on bike and by foot to their first day of classes on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins.

According to the 2023 Higher Education Return on Investment Report, Coloradans who hold bachelor’s degrees make significantly more money than residents with only high school diplomas.

But what other factors play into the cost-benefit formula? Chalkbeat Colorado Reporter Jason Gonzales spoke with KUNC’s Nikole Robinson Carroll about things to consider.

A Colorado resident with a high school diploma can expect weekly earnings of about $850. For undergraduate degrees, that amount jumps to about $1,400.

“Even among those who have an associate's or certificate, they are making more than those with only a high school diploma,” Gonzales told KUNC. “So there is something to say about college and the earnings you make after.”

Another highlight from the report is the finding that debt levels among graduates with two- and four-year degrees is on the decline.

But the positive outlook for college graduates may not look the same for everyone. People who pursue degrees in areas like health care or technology might see different outcomes from those studying the arts or social sciences.

“The other big takeaway that I really saw from this is, (it's) going to depend which degree you get, in which field,” Gonzales said. “Some fields are just going to naturally pay more, and those are the ones that are growing the most.”

Gonzales said the report doesn't tend to get much publicity, but some education interest groups are trying to change that.

“So folks, like TeRay Esquibel over at Ednium - which is a Denver-based alumni group - he really wants to see this kind of information get to students so they can make that decision at the front end,” Gonzales told KUNC. “He wants the state to be able to push that down into all the schools and really say, ‘Hey, this is what's going to work best for you as an individual, so you can make that informed decision on what you're going to do.’”

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As a reporter and Morning Edition host for KUNC, I follow the local stories of the day while also guiding KUNC listeners through NPR's wider-scope coverage. It's an honor and a privilege to help our audience start their day informed and entertained.
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