(Marketwatch) America devotes vastly more resources on higher education than other high-income countries, and it is hard to say it spends that money wisely.
For about half of the approximately 2 million high school graduates that will enroll this fall in a quest for a four-year degree, college will prove a lousy investment — for the nation and those students who will emerge heavily in debt.
The premise beneath federal student loan programs — beginning with the 1958 National Defense Education Act to the expansive arrangements modified by President Barack Obama — that is college is a good investment. For the nation, a better-prepared labor force increases productivity, and for students, because graduates earn better pay.
Seventy percent of high school graduates enroll in college but judged by math and reading scores, too many are unqualified and only about 60% graduate. The other 40% borrow huge sums, but their earning power is not much improved.
College debt often haunts them for decades and handicaps goals like marriage, starting families and purchasing homes that would simply be more attainable had they never set foot on a college campus.