This story originally appeared on Self Financial.
Over the past 10 years, undergraduate enrollment has been on the decline. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, total undergraduate enrollment decreased by 8% between 2010 and 2018. As the COVID-19 pandemic further disrupts higher education and employment prospects, many Americans are evaluating whether a four-year degree is the best path to a successful career.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with an undergraduate or advanced degree have significantly higher earnings than those without. While median annual earnings for full-time workers across all education levels in 2019 was $39,810, that for bachelor’s degree holders was $64,896, and the median salary for both doctoral and professional degree holders was nearly six figures.
Although higher education usually leads to a higher salary, the rising cost of education has created a precarious situation for many bachelor’s degree holders. Since 2003, total student