June 04, 2021

Even as the cost of college continues to rise, with student debt levels climbing along with it, the long-term financial benefits of a four-year college degree remain indisputable. Adults who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree have better economic outcomes, on average, than adults who have not completed college. They tend to earn more and accumulate more wealth.

But the economic benefits are not equally felt among college graduates. A new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Federal Reserve Board finds that first-generation college graduates are not on equal footing with their peers who have college-educated parents. Among household heads who have at least a bachelor’s degree, those who have a parent with a bachelor’s degree or more education have substantially higher incomes and more wealth than those who are the first generation in their family to graduate from college.

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