The costs of a college education outweigh the benefits
Debate Rounds (5)
Burden of proof is shared.
No new arguments in round 5.
Drops are not concessions.
Forfeit in any round is an automatic loss.
College is defined as "an independent institution of higher learning offering a course of general studies leading to a bachelor's degree." (http://www.merriam-webster.com...) No negotiation on this.
Round structure is as follows:
4) Response to rebuttals (defending your own case)
I thank my opponent for accepting.
As the majority of this debate will come down to weighing costs versus benefits, we first must know the benefits of a college education.
"Properly using the present value of the lifetime earnings, adjusted for the cost of going to college and the difference in the number of working years, and excluding those graduates with advanced degrees, calculated and the three percent discount rate used in the report produces a lifetime earnings differential of only $279,893 for a bachelors degree versus a high school degree." (http://www.insidehighered.com...) (his actual report can be downloaded here: http://chronicle.com...)
"This year, according to the College Board, average published in-state tuition and fee plus room/board charges exceed $17,000 at four-year public institutions." (http://www.cnn.com...) At four year private institutions, this number is roughly $11,500 annually. (in the Charles Miller report). Students are forced finance these costs with large loans, resulting in a student loan debt of tens of thousands of dollars by graduation. "Two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with debt in 2008, compared with less than half in 1993. Last year, graduates who took out loans left college with an average of $24,000 in debt." (http://www.nytimes.com...) The effect of this debt goes far beyond decreasing the lifetime earnings of a college graduate. Collegeboard now reports that the average age by which student loan debt is paid back stands at 33. (http://www.soundmindinvesting.com...). This greatly limits what can be done by graduates within the first 11 years of their working life. "College graduates and postgraduates, instead of buying cars, buying houses, getting married, having children—in other words, becoming full-fledged consumers are, as Nance-Nash puts it, “running back home.” That hurts us all." (http://chronicle.com...)
To show that opportunity cost outweighs the monetary benefits of a college education, one must show that there is a better way to spend the money which can not be achieved by going to college. This can be done fairly easily with investing potential. Using the average savings rates, cost of college tuition, student loan interest rates, and investment returns, an individual who invests their college fund instead of spending it will earn $1.3 million by the age of 65. A typical four year college graduate "will have less than a third of that." (http://www.nypost.com...) There are other, similar methods of investment, all of which will result in more money than a college education.
Another form of opportunity cost is the 4-6 years of lost job experience while attending college. With more and more job opportunities opening for those without college degrees, the 4-6 years of additional training and chances for promotion may very well outweigh the $279,893 monetary benefit of college. This job experience can also be gained while investing in the previous scenario.
Shrinking Benefits of a College Education
Recent graduates, which excludes graduates over the age of 25 who where able to find a job before the economic downturn, now have roughly the same unemployment rate as non-degree holders. "Over the past year, for example, the unemployment rate for college grads under age 25 has averaged 9.2 percent, up from 8.8 percent a year earlier and 5.8 percent in the first year of the recession that began in December 2007. That means recent grads have about the same level of unemployment as the general population. It also suggests that many employed recent grads may be doing work that doesn’t require a college degree." (http://www.nytimes.com...) The majority of college graduates that do find a job are often underemployed, working as waiters food-service helpers. "More than half of America's recent college graduates are either unemployed or working in a job that doesn't require a bachelor's degree, the Associated Press reported this weekend... According to the Census, the number of Americans under the age of 25 with at least a bachelor's degree has grown 38 percent since 2000. Not nearly enough jobs have been created to accommodate them, which has resulted in falling wages for young college graduates in the past decade, as well as the employment problems we're now seeing." (http://www.theatlantic.com...) With food preparation and service receiving the largest job growth between 2000 and 2010, the job opportunities for non-degree holders are only increasing. In fact, "among the top 10 with respect to actual job growth, 3 will require a postsecondary degree and only 1 will require a BA." (http://www.educationalpolicy.org...)
The Risks of Attending College
The risk one takes while attaining their college degree is the most important cost to be considered in this debate. These two risks, defaulting on student loan debt and dropping out, go hand in hand.
In the United States, only 46% of all students who started college managed to complete it. "The "Pathways to Prosperity" study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011 shows that just 56 percent of college students complete four-year degrees within six years." (http://www.reuters.com...) College dropouts are forced to pay back their debt, but without the benefits of receiving a college degree. Dropouts gain a very minimal increase in wages, and spend years of their lives with nothing to show for it except debt.
Default rates are also abysmally high. 19.2% of "borrowers who graduated with a certificate from a for-profit, less-than-four-year institution" defaulted on their student loans. (http://www.educationsector.org...) "A recent study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy found that for every borrower who defaults, at least two more fall behind in payments. The study found that only 37 percent of borrowers who started repaying their student loans in 2005 were able to pay them back fully and on time." (http://www.nytimes.com...) Student debt overall has now reached over $1 trillion, more than credit card debt. (http://www.theatlantic.com...) With student loans unable to be forgiven through bankruptcy, and with defaulting resulting in tax refunds being offset and wages being garnished, a college education is a high-risk, low-benefit investment.
The average cost of college tuition for a State school is roughly $15,000 a year for a 4 year program.  This averages out to $60,000 total in college costs after 4 years.
The average salary for someone with just a high school diploma is $23,000 a year. 
The average salary for someone with a Bachelor's degree is $45,500 a year. 
With a college education you're making $22,000 a year more than if you didn't go to college.
If we average this out, say you get out of college at age 22 and you work until age 65. That's 43 years of work. Say you're unemployed or injured for (a generous) 5 of these years. That's 38 years of work. Over these 38 years a college graduate will make $890,000 MORE than his counterpart that did not go to college.
Subtract out the $60k for college costs and you've still got a net profit of $830k that you would not have made if you didn't go to college at all.
There is a huge social benefit to going to college. Not only do you make lifelong friends and connections, you learn to live on your own. You have to feed yourself, go to class, work, pay your bills, do your laundry etc without your parents help. Those who leave (or don't leave) at 18 will have the penalty of not having the beneficial college transition into life. After college, students are usually prepared and willing to go out and live and work on their own, completely independent.
While social benefit doesn't have a numeric value attached to it, it is extremely valuable. You can't replace the "college experience" with work experience. The friendships, job connections, skills and social transition are all invaluable and give those who finish college a huge boost over those who did not.
My opponent keeps claiming that college is "too risky" and that many people shouldn't even try. But if you don't go to college at all, if you don't try for fear of failing etc then you'll forever shut out the opporitunities that a college education can bring you.
Many jobs REQUIRE a college education. If you don't have one, you'll forever be barred from applying for them. Even if you don't get a job right out of college you'll always be able to apply for college degree jobs. Those who don't attend high school will never be able to apply for these, ever. My opponent claims the value of a college education is dropping - then how worthless is not even having one to begin with then?
It is silly to forever shut out ample future opporitunities for better employment, better pay and greater experiences due to the fear of failing. Even if it doesn't pay off immidiately after you graduate, you'll always have the degree and the experience to use for the rest of your life.
" Individuals with only a high school diploma were twice as likely to be unemployed as those holding bachelor’s degrees." 
You're more likely to be unemployed...always, without a college degree.
"Statistics project that 75 percent of future positions are expected to require at least some type of certification or licensure, and professions that require a bachelor’s degree are projected to grow nearly twice as fast as the national average, making a college degree a good investment." 
All of these positions are forever barred to you without a college education. That severely limits your opporitunity of employment and careers.
* There are tangible and large monetary advantages for those with college degrees vs. those without.
* College has social value and provides you skills and experiences that are valuable throughout life.
* A college degree is a permenant asset and a long term plus. You'll always have it.
* College degrees open up and hold far more opporitunities than just a diploma.
* The costs of a college education are easily outweighed by the abundant benefits.
I thank my opponent for the quick response.
My opponent comes up with a number similar to that cited by collegeboard, of roughly 1 million more dollars being earned by those holding bachelors degrees, as opposed to those holding high school diplomas. However, my opponent's calculations fail to take a variety of other factors into account. The letter from Charles Miller, cited in my "Benefits" section, shows one of the issues: "The report assumes a student will finish college in four years. Actually, the typical time to graduation is closer to six years in higher education today. The addition of two extra years of college costs and two less years of earnings makes a significant difference." My opponent also fails to take into account the fact that tuition is financed by student loans, which are difficult to pay off. As I already mentioned, the average college graduate will be unable to pay off their debt until age 33. Given my opponent's estimates, this age should be 23.5 years, or after 1 and a half years of earnings. My opponent's number for the yearly cost of college also should not be considered, as he only included the price of public institutions. According to the fact sheet that he cites, the yearly cost of all four year institutions is $20,986.
The income data which is cited by my opponent is also from the 2000 census, which is far too outdated. To repeat the quote used in my "benefits" section: "Properly using the present value of the lifetime earnings, adjusted for the cost of going to college and the difference in the number of working years... calculated and the three percent discount rate used in the report produces a lifetime earnings differential of only $279,893 for a bachelors degree versus a high school degree."
At the end of this round, I will be showing another major issue with my opponent's case in general which works to farther refute this monetary point.
The majority of societal benefits cited by my opponent are not gained solely through a college education. An individual must learn to live on their own even if they don't go to college. Other benefits which my opponent brings up, mostly social skills, aren't as beneficial as one might think. Students already go through 12 years of school to gain social skills. The additional four years, while it may be beneficial, are by no means required. Rather, students should be putting their social skills to the test in the real world. Simply put, real world experiences outweigh college experiences.
My opponent also briefly mentions "job connections." In this case, the 4-6 years of employment and job experience gives far better job connections than the college experience.
The overall impact of this point is very small, and can be easily countered by weighing it against the arguments I brought up.
My opponent is attempting to decrease the impact of my risk point. "Fear of failing" is not an adequate phrase. The fear is of 54% chance to drop out, and to not gain any of the benefits from a college degree. The high default risk, almost 20%, is far too large of a risk for the average student to take. I'd also like to state that student loan debt cannot be forgiven through bankruptcy. Defaulting on such debt is virtually a guarantee to have your wages garnished, to suffer an incredibly large drop in your credit, to have tax returns offset, and to be ineligible for future federal employment.
My opponent also asks if "the value of a college education is dropping - then how worthless is not even having one to begin with then?" The reason why the value of a college education is dropping, largely in respect to employment opportunities, is because more and more individuals are graduating college, while job growth simply cannot keep up. This does not decrease the value of not going to college.
My opponent then brings up job sector growth. There is a large issue with the statistic my opponent brings up: It is focused on percentage increases. Meaning an industry which goes from 100,000 to 200,000 jobs would be said to have higher growth than an industry which goes from 5 million to 9 million. The study which I cited in round one focuses on the actual number of jobs created. Among the top 10 growing jobs, only one requires a bachelors degree, and among the top 20, only 4 do.
Problem With Pro-College Studies
This section is aimed at employment and income prospects. Any study which brings up the benefits of a college education must show that these benefits can be obtained by recent graduates. For this reason, the quote "individuals with only a high school diploma were twice as likely to be unemployed as those holding bachelor’s degrees" cannot be considered because it includes individuals who graduated college 20-30 years ago, when the benefits of a college education were much larger. College graduates were hit especially hard by the recession: the previous unemployment rate of 5.8% has nearly doubled to 9.2%. "That means recent grads have about the same level of unemployment as the general population."
The same goes for future earnings. Studies cannot include individuals who have already held a college degree for 20+ years, and already achieved a large income. This is due to the fact that the rising costs prevent current graduates from reaching such future earnings. Effectively, recent graduates are no longer able to obtain the employment and income benefits that past graduates have. Therefore, studies which show the benefits achieved by past graduates do not show that recent college graduates will obtain such benefits.
Causation Versus Correlation
While this may be a generic argument, it is important to consider in this round. What's important to note is that college's tend to enroll students who are already geared toward success. Students who graduate with high gpas will, more often than not, continue in to college. However, as high school gpa is also correlated to future earnings, this skews statistics which report on the earnings of college graduates. This rebuttal can be summed up as follows: Any student which meets the requirements to go to college will, on average, earn more than the average high-school diploma holder, regardless of whether or not they attend college.
This does not completely negate con's future earnings statistics. It is true that college graduates will have higher incomes. However, one must always keep in mind that, due to what I described above, the numbers will always be a couple thousand dollars lower than what is cited.
The Overall Chance of Any Benefits
This relates to my rebuttal against "opportunities," yet is large enough to deserve its own section.
The overall chance of achieving these benefits is very low. The 54% drop out rate means that one is more likely to not receive any of these benefits, and instead be faced with massive student loan debt. The 20% default rate means that even if one does manage to beat the odds and graduate they will not receive any of the benefits. Instead, they will receive massive wage garnishments and federal benefits being offset. Even if one can somehow manage to graduate and not default on their student loan debt, they will more likely than not be put into a job that doesn't even require a college degree. Thus, even if my opponent manages to prove that the monetary benefits of college outweigh the monetary costs, voters must keep in mind that its extremely unlikely any college graduate will actually achieve these benefits.
College graduates only earn $279,000 more over the course of their lifetime, not $890,000.
A college graduate is unlikely to actually obtain such lifetime earnings.
There are very few social benefits of going to college.
The large risks taken to obtain a college degree vastly outweigh the potential benefits.
College graduates do not have a lower unemployment rate.
Job potential for high school graduates is increasing.
My opponent and I have decided to forgo this round on the account that I am ill with food poisoning.
We are cutting out the round used to defend our own cases. This round will be used for con to attack my case, and then round 5 will be final rebuttals/summary.
My opponent tries to comb through my argument and pick through it but the bottom line is, though he disagrees with the extent of my claims made, that there still is a monetary benefit for college educated people. He claims there is ONLY a difference of over $275,000. That's still a lot; a salary boost of thousands a year.
In the end, though we have varying studies (and there are literally dozens of college income and average income studies and numbers out there) the bottom line, concluded by both of us, is that there is a long term monetary benefit to attending college.
Even the low number given by my opponent is pretty high, and if we average the two the benefit is even higher.
Through it all my opponent failed to refute the claim that there is a monetary benefit to attending college which only helps to add weight to our case going forward when combined with other points.
My opponent claims that 12 years of public schooling and some start up job positions can replace the benefits given by a college experience. However, this is simply not the case. He claims "real world" experiences are better than college experiences. However, while learning how to live on your own gradually and constructively in college you're also getting an education. Instead of flinging 18 year olds into a dingy apartment right away, college eases young adults into this transition making it easier on them.
Also, my opponent claims "job experience" will give them more connections than college will. This is simply an unpractical claim to make. The jobs 18 year old high school graduates will be hourly wage jobs to start almost guaranteed. They'll have to work their way up to a management position in the 4-6 years they could be in college. College students however are usually hired for higher positions automatically and will forgo the wage jobs.
Another thing, colleges have Career resource centers which specialize in helping college students get jobs. The UF center for example, gives out thousands of jobs a year to college students.  Also, they claim that many jobs are not advertised and are only reached through school and professional connections. Up to 80% of jobs never reach the "job market" via advertising. College students will have these connections via professors, internships and the resource center on campus. Non college students are barred from all this.
My opponent claims 54% of students have a chance of dropping out and 20% will drop out. Almost 100% of these drop outs occur within the first year of college meaning the damage financially and to their time will only be the extent of a year. They will owe 1/4th that of traditional 4 year students. The risk is not as high as my opponent claims. On year of tuition will be about $5k not the full extent of a student loan.
Also, again, the experience and status of being college educated is always there. Even if you have to start out poorly, you will always have that status which will help you advance long term. People without college educations will always hit a barrier when on the rise. People without college educations will always be barred from positions requiring an education.
This is huge.
The opportunities presented by a college education are forever. Not having a degree will close these doors to you and they will never be opened.
=Problems with Pro-College Studies=
"because it includes individuals who graduated college 20-30 years ago"
This helps to reiterate my point that college degree benefits are more long term than my opponent wants to acknowledge. Even 20-30 years later these college graduates will get jobs and according to multiple studies will be making some amount more than their non degree holding counterparts.
My opponents claims about the recession are misleading. The recession caused EVERYONE'S unemployment numbers to rise. It did not affect any one group more or less than another. Of course, if unemployment is above 8% college graduates will be affected by this.
=Causation Versus Correlation=
My opponent makes a rather weak claim here about causation. He claims people who go to college would be successful anyways and therefore college studies are not as straight and true as they appear. However, it doesn't change the common denominator in all these studies which is a college education. People geared towards success do tend to go to college as my opponent points out. Why? Because college gives benefits. If college benefits did not outweigh the costs then these success driven people would not attempt to attend college. They attend college because of the tangible benefits to be gained.
If these college eligible people would earn more regardless of college; why attend? Because college is obviously more beneficial than not. Or else they'd continue without it and earn more anyways. College enhances these skills and benefits.
=Chance of Benefits=
I said before, college benefits last a lifetime. The degree will always be with you, so chance of success is exponentially greater throughout their lifetime than a non degree holding person. Also, as I mentioned before, the drop outs occur almost exclusively in the first year of college so the damage done is only a year's worth. College loans for one year, not four etc.
The chance of benefits and success are exponentially greater for a college degree holder than a non college degree hold over a lifetime due to the ability to be exposed to college educated positions etc.
* College monetary benefit is present and confirmed by my opponent
* Opportunities for jobs are exponentially greater than non degree holding people
* Most high level people (CEO's, politicians etc) all have college degrees
* If college didn't offer benefit's so many success geared people would rely on themselves and forgo college
The benefits of college outweigh the costs.
In this round, I will finish up final rebuttals, then list both the costs and benefits of a college education. Weighing and impacting each point will be done at the end of the round.
When talking about monetary benefits, note that the claim was always about lifetime earnings. Lifetime earnings and opportunity costs are different points, and higher lifetime earnings does not show that you will accumulate more wealth, simply that you will have a higher income.
I agree with my opponent that the average college graduate will have a high lifetime earnings differential. However, there is no "averaging" to be done. The number stands at roughly $275,000, as other studies are too flawed to be considered.
My opponent has mostly dropped this point, instead focusing on monetary benefits. Simply because one will have higher earnings (not wealth) over their lifetime does not mean that debt should be ignored.
The average college graduate will be in debt until the age of 33. As was brought up in my first contention and not refuted: "College graduates and postgraduates, instead of buying cars, buying houses, getting married, having children—in other words, becoming full-fledged consumers are, as Nance-Nash puts it, “running back home.” That hurts us all."
Some small weighing to be done: A small chance of earning $275,000 versus being in debt for eleven years, with a 20% chance of defaulting and losing everything. It's fairly obvious that these costs outweigh the monetary benefits, especially when combined with opportunity cost.
Investment Potential (opportunity cost)
A brief reminder: If a college graduate misses out on an opportunity, this is considered opportunity cost. If I can show that college graduates miss out on an opportunity to make more money, then this must be considered for total wealth accumulation.
My opponent only responded to my point on job experience, leaving the investment point un-touched for the entire debate. This alone justifies a pro ballot. Investing money, rather than going to college, will result in far more wealth (more than three times as much) by the age of 65, even if the college graduate invests too. This is using the average savings rate, investment returns, cost of tuition, etc.
Simply put, this point outweighs any possible monetary benefits that my opponent can bring up, and the point was dropped. The opportunity cost of going to college is roughly 1.3 million dollars.
Pro-College Studies Point
In the last round, my opponent claimed that this point reinforces his case. This is entirely false. The only way it would do this is if con could refute my points of how college graduates no longer receive the same benefits that they did years ago. I brought these points up in rounds 2 and 3, and will reiterate them here.
In round 3, I showed that the recession did hit college graduates harder, as is shown by the fact that they now have the same unemployment rate as non-graduates, when 10 years ago they didn't.
Again in round 3, I showed that job growth is occurring in areas where college degrees are not needed. However, more and more people are going to college. This greatly decreases the value of a college education. This causes underemployment, meaning more and more college graduates are not gaining the wage benefits that my opponent has brought up. "More than half of America's recent college graduates are either unemployed or working in a job that doesn't require a bachelor's degree."
Default rates have increased. Drop out rates have increased. An average college graduate is going into an environment that is completely different than it was 20 years ago. Thus, this entire point still stands: only recent college graduates can be considered, unless con can show that these graduates will eventually reach the earnings/employment potential of past graduates (note that burden of proof is shared in this debate).
Drop-outs and Defaults.
My opponent misunderstands my drop-out point. The focus was not on the cost of dropping out. The focus was on the fact that less than half of those who go to college even gain any benefits.
Defaulting, however, should be considered as a cost. This point has not been adequately touched upon by my opponent. We've already established that the monetary benefits will be roughly $275,000 (other than opportunity cost). If you default on your student loans, you lose all of that. It cannot be forgiven by bankruptcy: your wages will be garnished, your tax refunds offset, you will be ineligible for future federal employment, etc. This is an extremely large point greatly undermines the value of a college education. One-fifth of all borrowers will default and lose all their monetary benefits.
My opponent focuses a lot on the benefits of a college education. However, one must ask themselves: how likely am I to actually achieve this benefits? The answer is not likely at all, roughly 40%. Once again, this point alone can justify a pro ballot. If 60% of students will not even attain these elusive benefits, then they shouldn't even be considered in this debate.
As I've stated before, this point has a very small impact.
My opponent again mentions that you are "learning to live on your own gradually and constructively." I brought up in round 3 that you must also learn to live on your own if you don't go to college. My opponent responded to this by saying that "you're also getting an education," but this point is meaningless as we're debating about whether or not the education is worth it in the first place.
What's the difference between learning to live in college, and learning to live in the real world? You have to constantly worry about debt, you have to work jobs to in order to finance your education on top of class work, you have to go 11 years knowing you're at a disadvantage for buying a home or getting married, you know you have a massive default/drop out rate, etc. The social benefits of going to college are easily countered with the social costs.
I concede that you do not lose job connections by attending college. However, it is fairly clear that you don't gain many either. Why? Because the unemployment rate for college graduates and non-graduates are the same, and because the majority of job growth is occurring in areas where you don't even need a college education. Also note that my opponent statistic on 80% of jobs aren't advertised does not show that non-college graduates only gain access to 20% of jobs. Con's own source mentions you gain access to these 80% of jobs through your "network," which includes, friends, family, peers, social organizations, service providers, recent graduates, etc. This does not require a college education.
Causation versus Correlation
This point wasn't intended to completely negate con's benefits. Rather, it was to show that those who qualify to go to college will automatically have higher earnings/unemployment potential than normal high-school graduates, due to their own personal traits. My opponent's claim that college offers benefits because success-driven people decide to go simply cannot stand in this round until con can show that they achieve such benefits. I've already shown that there are little benefits to a college education, and large costs.
What is not a benefit?
Greater overall wealth.
Roughly a 40% chance for a $275,000 lifetime earnings differential.
1.3 million dollars of opportunity cost, which my opponent has not refuted at all.
A 20% chance of defaulting and losing everything if you borrow money.
Being in debt for 11 years and unable to become a full consumer.
You will have roughly 1 million dollars less wealth than if you were to spend money elsewhere.
You will gain no noticeable benefits over a non-graduate.
You are extremely unlikely to achieve any benefits.
College is 11-15 lost years of your life with nothing to show for it.
ConservativePolitico forfeited this round.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro presented some arguments which could have, and should have been easily countered, namely the "opportunity" cost. However, Con did not, so those arguments have to hold. Since both members agreed to the forfeit, no point is lost, and Con only forfeited his last round, which we can't accept new arguments, so it doesn't lose conduct.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Double forfeit
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