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Net present value of a college
To compare apples-to-apples, we need to convert
these costs and rewards into today's dollars, figured on graduation day.
Note that the million dollars in increased earning power is the same as about
NPV college costs = $150k
NPV income gain = $400k
So, what's a Bachelors degree worth? It's
about a quarter of a million dollars, not too shabby.
Income and College Major
Lifetime income increase depends heavily on your
college major, with this hierarchy (expressed in net present value dollars).
It's interesting that college students fall down this hierarchy using the Peter
Principle, changing majors until they find one that they master:
science or Info. Tech
Note that engineers earn 4x as much as Education
majors, followed closely by computer science and business administration.
What's a Masters or Law Degree worth?
When we look at the increased earnings for MBA's
and lawyers, we see a huge increase in lifetime earnings:
- Attorneys can expect to earn
$3.2 million dollars more than a High School graduate. (Today's NPV worth is
about 1.5 million dollars, about $500k payback per year)
- MBA's can expect to earn 1.3 million dollars more than a high school
graduate. (Today's NPV worth ~= $800k dollars, about $400k payback per year)
Of course, these are all averages and your mileage will vary. But it's
clear that a Law School diploma (J.D.) is worth about 1.5 million dollars, and
an MBA is worth about $800k.
College earnings references: