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Sep 10, 2013 05:26 AM EDT

Two- Year Degrees Offer Better Salary Than four-Year Degrees: Study

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Students who have graduated from two-year community and technical colleges earn more in their first year of employment than those with four-year college degrees, according to a study conducted by College Measures, a non-profit organization.

The findings stated that associate degrees or certificates from technical colleges are as valuable as bachelor's degrees.

"The findings challenge some conventional wisdom, showing for example that what you study matters more than where you study," Mark Schneider, president of College Measures, said. "Higher education is one of the most important investments people make. The right choices can lead to good careers and good wages while the wrong ones can leave graduates with mountains of debt and poor prospects for ever paying off student loans."

The organization arrived at the conclusion after studying first-year wages of graduates with different majors and degrees from both two-year and four-year colleges in five states: Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

According to US News, Arkansas' graduates with an associate degree earned just $1,354 less in the first year out of college than those with a bachelor's degree; Tennessee graduates with associate degrees earned almost $1,400 more in their first year of service than bachelor degree holders; first-year income for associate degree graduates were $2,000 higher in Virginia, $7,000 higher in Colorado and more than $11,000 higher in Texas.

Schneider said that state authorities invest a lot of money into flagship and prominent research institutions. However, he suggests that they should instead concentrate on funding significantly on community colleges, which 'can represent a good way for residents of a state to get the training that they need to get into the local labor market and earn a reasonable wage.'

They also found that very few students are aware of potential earnings before they enroll in a particular major or degree in a post-secondary institution and before taking a loan. The researchers claimed that lack of such information can lead to taking higher loans for a degree that might not fetch good salary to clear off the debt.

"Prospective students need sound information about where their educational choices are likely to lead," the report said. "This information can save students money, keep them from making bad choices, and prevent a lot of future financial headaches."

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