New Dallas College Tool Aims to Show Students Why a Degree Is Worth It

The Dallas Morning News

A new Dallas College tool seeks to entice the students who paused their education back to school by showing them the value of a degree.....

.....The new tool gives prospective students an idea of future earnings with a particular degree or certificate and weighs that against the cost of the investment in time and money that they’d spend on college.

“When students know why they’re making sacrifices to go back to school, and they know why they’re working so hard … then they’re more likely to persist and ultimately graduate,” said David Mahan, the Research Institute at Dallas College’s executive director.....

.....Early findings from the tool show that those who pursue college — either four-year or two-year institutions — on average earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more over 40 years than those with only a high school diploma, according to a Dallas College news release.

The tool pulls the numbers from publicly available data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard as well as from the census. The federal earnings data is based off those who received financial aid in college who later reported income to the Internal Revenue Service after graduating.....

.....Those that use such tools should also be aware of limitations, said Austin Slaughter, a technical research associate at MDRC, a social policy research organization. Data can be imperfect and insufficient, so caution should be used before taking any information at face value, Slaughter said.

Users should not expect the same exact results shown in the tool as past students, he said.

Much of the federal earnings data in the dashboard was collected before the pandemic and, in general, workforce and economic conditions fluctuate over time.

So while “college is a good bet on average, it will not pay off for everyone,” he noted.

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