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As four-year degrees weigh heavy on America’s pockets and engulf graduates in debt, many are asking, “Is going to college really worth the expense?” But a new study conducted by Pew Research says simply: You’re worse off without a college degree than with it!

Sure we all know that young college graduates outperform their less-educated peers in all aspects of their economic lives, from personal earnings to financial well-being. But did you know that the discrepancy in financial outcomes between both groups is the highest it has ever been?

In 1979, recent college graduates (between the ages of 25 and 32) earned about $5,500 more than two-year degree holders and nearly $9,700 more than employees with just a high school diploma. In 1995, that gap widened: recent grads reeled in $11,500 more than those who earned a two-year degree and $15,800 more than high school diploma holders.

So what does today look like? Among full-time working Millennials, recent grads (who make an average of $45,000) earn about $15,500 more than both two-year degree and high school diploma holders who make $30,000 and $28,000, respectively.

“When today’s young adults are compared with previous generations, the disparity in economic outcomes between college graduates and those with a high school diploma or less formal schooling has never been greater in the modern era,” Pew Research adds.

Due to the Great Recession, this generation (college educated or not) is faring much worse in the job market than Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, or members of the Silent generation (those born between 1925 and 1942) when they were young adults. But high school degree holders received the brunt of the economy’s woes.

Today, 22 percent of high school degree holders are living in poverty. Among Baby boomers who had a high school diploma, only seven percent were in poverty.

But the question still stands: “Is college worth it?” Well, 72 percent of Millennials would actually say “yes” — pursuing that four-year degree paid off!

“Even among the two-thirds of college-educated Millennials who borrowed money to pay for their schooling, about nine-in-ten (86%) say their degrees have been worth it,” Pew Research said.

The most popular regret that college degree-holding Millennials have, according to the survey, is that they didn’t acquire more work experience during their studies. “Half say taking this step would have put them in a better position to get the kind of job they wanted,” Pew notes.

This study surveyed 2,002 adults and used economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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