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The ROIs and IOUs of a College Diploma

Ananth Seshadri explores the payout of attending college and which majors make it easier to pay off student loans.

Ananth Seshadri is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Distinguished Chair of the UW economics department and codirector of the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy. Seshadri earned his doctorate in economics from the University of Rochester in 2000 and has been teaching at the UW ever since. An expert in macroeconomics and public finance, he will share insights on the value of a college degree to an individual and discuss the importance of higher education to society.

My chief area of research is:

I have researched the causes and consequences of demographic change and the effects of technological change in accounting for various demographic patterns. More recently, I have studied the role that human capital plays in understanding inequality within and across countries.

On The UW Now Livestream, I’ll talk about:

I plan to discuss the returns to college and college majors. I will present some evidence on the rising tuition cost as well as the rising benefits from graduating from a four-year college. These represent not just a mere correlation — college causes people to improve their standard of living. I will also talk about the returns to various college majors, including some data on the earnings potential from UW–Madison majors.

One thing I want viewers to remember is:

The key takeaway is that college continues to be a great long-term investment. While tuition costs have risen, the benefits have also risen substantially. There is growing evidence suggesting that lack of information represents a barrier to attending college. Finally, there are substantial differences in earnings potential across majors. 

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