Justifying the Expense: Study Shows the Returns of UT Degree

College graduates have a lot to worry about: where to work, where to live, how much money they will make, and so on. But thanks to a recent national study, UT grads can sleep a little more soundly knowing that their educational investment will more than likely pay off.

Professors at the University of Texas at Dallas, University of Tulsa, and Cornell University studied the wages of students who attended college in Texas between 1996 and 2002 to estimate the effect of college quality on the distribution of earnings.

Looking at four sets of schools (The University of Texas, Texas A&M, the rest of the state’s non-flagship colleges, and its community colleges), the study found that Longhorns and Aggies earned more than their peers who went to other Texas schools.

With major, grades, and other variables taken into account, the researchers also discovered that the typical A&M student often made more than the typical UT student. However, the most exceptional UT students earned more than everybody.

“We saw that the returns at the very high end appear to be a lot higher for UT-Austin grads when compared to the graduates of non-flagship four-year public schools,” says Dr. Rodney Andrews, assistant professor of economics at UT-Dallas and co-author of the study.

This research gives a more complete snapshot than similar studies that usually focus on elite, private institutions. It also justifies the cost of attending one of Texas’ public schools, such as UT-Austin, Andrews says.

“We look at a set of colleges that the normal student is likely to attend,” Andrews says. “We certainly provide evidence that the returns to finishing at Texas’ public institutions can be extremely large and a really good investment.”

Photo courtesy Bill Ledbetter on Flickr.


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