Does It Pay to Complete Community College — and How Much?

This research brief from CAPSEE examines independent state evaluations of community college programs and finds higher earnings for individuals who complete associate degrees, particularly in vocational or health-related fields.


Does It Pay to Complete Community College — and How Much?

What is a community college degree worth? This research brief from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment aims to answer that very question. The brief examines independent state evaluations and finds that, on average, the quarterly earnings for men and women earning associate degrees are $1,160 and $1,790 higher than non-completers respectively. Further, the study finds that degrees earned in vocational fields, as opposed to arts and humanities, yield higher earnings, with degrees in health-related fields the most lucrative. 

The authors conclude that, while certificate programs produce marginally positive returns, there is robust evidence that associate degrees produce even higher earnings outcomes. The researchers suggest policymakers appreciate how community colleges can support workers during tough economic times and work to increase completion of two-year programs. 

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