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East Carolina University Degree worth $1 million

(May 14, 1998)   —   If you've just spent the last four (or more) years working toward a college degree - and/or paying for one - you have probably, at some point, asked yourself, "Is it really worth it? Is all of this hard work and expense going to pay off?"

According to research by the Survey Research Laboratory at East Carolina University, an undergraduate degree from ECU may be worth more than a million dollars.

Demographic information gathered from 22 eastern North Carolina counties for The East Book: A Guide to Markets and Purchasing Patterns in Eastern North Carolina, supports this conclusion, according to Dr. Ken Wilson, associate professor of sociology and director of the Survey Research Laboratory.

The East Book, released this year, was done through a phone survey of 2,200 households. Among the questions asked was total household income and the highest degree earned by anyone in the household.

According to survey results, in households where no one earned any degree beyond high school, the average yearly income was $24,728. In households where the highest degree was from a community college the average annual income was $33,666 and in households where at least one person earned a four-year college degree the average annual income was $48,603.

Wilson said these data indicate that in the average household in eastern North Carolina where at least one person earned a community college degree, annual income was increased by $8,938.

While the cost of a community college degree varies, the Pitt Community College Admissions Office estimates the average cost of earning a degree is about $2,000 (including tuition, fees and books). "Even after adjusting for the fact that the high school graduate will be able to work more years than the community college graduate, this investment increases family income by more than $400,000," Wilson said. The data also show in households where at least one person earned a four-year college degree, annual income increased $23,875.

The East Carolina University Cashier's Office estimates that a North Carolina resident could earn a degree at ECU for roughly $26,000 (including tuition, fees, books, room and board). Again, adjusting for the high school graduate having more "working years," Wilson said this investment increases family income by almost $1.1 million. Wilson concludes that a college degree is not only a good investment for the student, but also for the state.

"North Carolina currently pays $6,977 per semester for each in-state student at ECU but each graduate pays extra taxes on that extra income they earn. If the student remains in North Carolina, over the course of their lifetime the state should collect about $100,000 in extra taxes."


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481