College is still the best financial investment you'll ever make

Let’s assume that you’re a high school graduate and you have $102,000 to invest in your future. Is college your best bet? Or would you be better off putting the money into an alternative investment, like stocks or bonds, and earning the salary of a typical high school graduate over your lifetime?

By any financial measure, the investment in a college degree is the winning choice, with a rate of return of a whopping 15.2% a year on the $102,000 investment for those who earn the average salary for college graduates. This is more than double the average rate of return in the stock market during the last 60 years (6.8%), and more than five times the return to investments in corporate bonds (2.9%), gold (2.3%) long-term government bonds (2.2%) or housing (0.4%).

This high rate of return translates into large differences in earnings. Over a lifetime, the average college graduate earns roughly $570,000 more than the average person with only a high school diploma. In addition, statistics show that college graduates on average live longer lives than high school graduates and tend to have higher job satisfaction.