Almost 2 in 5 Americans Don’t See Value in College Degree


A new survey of 2,245 Americans commissioned by in July 2017 and conducted by global research provider Pureprofile, found that almost 2 in 5 Americans, or 38.7%, are unsure or don’t think their college degree was worth the money. That’s an estimated 60.96 million Americans. Of these degree holders, 49.6% say they aren’t making use of their degree, while about 1 in 5 (19.6%) say they haven’t been able to find a job in their field.


Why was your college degree not worth it?

  1. 49.6% – aren’t making use of it

  2. 19.6% – unable to find a job in their field of study

  3. 16.1% – dropped out of college

  4. 10.0% – changed careers

  5. 4.6% – changed degrees

Data released on August 15 by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and analyzed by, shows that student loan debt has grown at a faster pace than any other household debt, by an incredible 457.68% since records began, in Q1 2003.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Labor Market for Recent College Graduates report, 43.7% of recent graduates (aged 22-27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher) are underemployed, which means they are working in jobs that don’t require their degree. Out of all college graduates, 34.4% are underemployed, meaning $462.3 billion of student loan debt is potentially being repaid by people in jobs that don’t require their degree.

“This trend raises concern over the amount of student debt in America for unused degrees. With $1.34 trillion in outstanding student loan balances according to the Federal Reserve, plus 34.4% college graduates employed in jobs that don’t require a degree, there’s a need for greater discussion and support around those figuring out their career path,” says‘s Consumer Advocate, Jennifer McDermott.  “Being open-minded is good. It’s not a bad thing to take a gap year to research what field you might want to go into or undertake an internship to gain some hands-on experience. This could potentially save you adding to our $1.34 trillion debt of outstanding student loans, while giving you greater clarity that you’re doing something you’ll enjoy and stick with. “

Further findings from the survey:



  • More males than females have a college degree, sitting at 69.8% compared to 61.5% of women

  • More men think that their college degree wasn’t worth the money, with over 1 in 4 (23.4%) saying so, compared to 17.3% of women

  • Females are using their degrees less than men, with 51.2% saying they’re not using their degree (compared to 47.4% of men)

  • Men are more likely to identify changing their career as why their degree isn’t worth it, sitting at 12.1% compared to 8.5% of women


  • Gen X lead the way in terms of college degree possession (66.4%), followed by Millennials (65.2%) and Baby Boomers (55.0%)

  • Baby Boomers most see the value in their college degree, with 72.7% saying it was worth the money, followed by 60.1% of Millennials and 59.1% of Gen X

  • More Millennials have dropped out of college (16.8%), changed careers (12.6%), or changed degrees (6.3%) than any other generation

  • Gen X are using their degrees the least (56.2%), followed by Baby Boomers (50.0%) and Millennials (44.8%)

  • Baby Boomers identify not being able to find a job in that field as the main reason why their degree wasn’t worth the money (25.0%), followed by Millennials (19.6%) and Gen X (18.1%)