The United States is a land of opportunity for those who want to pursue an advanced degree, but it’s also one of the most expensive places to get a degree.
A new study from the Georgetown University Center for Health Policy and Management finds that nearly three-quarters of Americans between ages 25 and 34 earn less than $30,000 a year in annual household income, which falls below the median for most American workers.
For those with no income, the gap can be especially pronounced, with the national poverty rate for the 25-34 age bracket sitting at 16.7 percent.
That rate has doubled since 2010, and the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line for the first time is more than three times higher than in 2008.
The new study, published in the March edition of the American Journal of Health Economics, found that only 20 percent of American workers have earned more than $100,000, which is a far cry from the national average of 45 percent.
The majority of these workers live in states with high-cost areas like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and they often work in fast-food restaurants, retail outlets and other service jobs.
Despite the steep economic costs, the average college graduate now has a better chance of obtaining a bachelor’s degree than their parents did in the 1980s, when college enrollment was lower.
That’s because of a wave of public colleges and universities opening up in the last decade, according to the report.
But even those schools that opened their doors in the 1990s and 2000s have struggled to attract students.
The percentage of college graduates entering their first two years at a four-year institution increased from 11 percent in 1996 to 25 percent in 2014, while the percentage entering their third year at the same institution dropped from 17 percent to 15 percent, the study found.
Despite these challenges, the report found that the number of high-paying college degrees has increased dramatically since 2010.
The number of full-time jobs available for people with a bachelor degree in a given year rose from 6.3 million in 2015 to 9.6 million in 2019.
In contrast, the number available for college graduates in 2020 was 6.2 million.
That means more than 80 percent of graduates today have less than a bachelor and a degree, according the report, which uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the number.
The study found that a third of all full-year jobs in the United States were in the service sector.
And while the median household income for a college graduate is $58,000 annually, the poverty rate is 23 percent.
The study also found that nearly a quarter of all college graduates are employed full- or part-time, and those workers earn $24,000 more per year than those with a high school diploma.
In fact, more than one in five graduates who hold a high-school diploma or less have a job, and nearly one in 10 graduates have a full- and part- time job, the survey found.
And with the cost of college far outstripping any of the economic gains that could be made by students, it is no surprise that some students may leave their school early.
While the number who left their last semester at an accredited college fell from 12.4 percent in the early 2000s to 8.5 percent in 2018, the figure for those still enrolled is down by more than half, to 2.9 percent.
“This is a troubling trend,” said Andrew F. Kennedy, a Georgetown University professor who authored the report and is an adviser to the Education Committee for the New York State Coalition for Student Success, in a statement.
“There’s an awful lot of people who are struggling to make ends meet and find ways to support themselves.”
He added that it’s important to note that many students who left after their last two years of college are actually the ones who end up paying for their education.
The median household incomes of students who enrolled in college in the late 2000s were $59,000 per year, and now they are $51,000.