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Assessing the Value of Post-Secondary Education in Michigan

An Equity-Focused Analysis

Post-secondary education is often touted for its economic benefits, including higher earnings, improved health outcomes, and increased community engagement. However, these benefits are not evenly distributed and vary based on factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, location, and type of credential. This paper examines the economic outcomes of post-secondary education in Michigan, using data from the IHEP Equitable Value Explorer and the State of Michigan.
The study reveals several key findings. First, individuals with post-secondary degrees and credentials in Michigan tend to have higher median earnings compared to those without. Second, after ten years, the median earnings of both completers and non-completers of post-secondary education in Michigan surpass those with only a high school degree, often enough to fully recover the costs of their education. Third, Michigan ranks close to the national average for median income and performs well in terms of the economic value of college. However, there are disparities in median income and other outcomes based on gender and race/ethnicity. Additionally, earnings outcomes vary depending on the field of study, and there are differing gender and racial/ethnic disparities across various fields.
Further, there are disparities between public and private institutions, with public universities in Michigan outperforming private universities in terms of median income. Moreover, the study also highlights disparities in earnings outcomes by race/ethnicity and gender. While all race/ethnicity groups and both men and women experience a wage benefit associated with post-secondary education, there are gaps in median income and other outcome measures. For example, Asian and White students in Michigan have higher median incomes than Hispanic and Black students, and men generally have higher median incomes than women with the same level of education.
To address these disparities, recommendations are made for strategies such as universal access to high-quality education from early childhood through high school, enhanced support for college and career planning, increased capacity in high-demand majors, and greater investment in short-duration credentials and training programs for non-degree holders.

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