Read the full article at The Conversation.

The cost of college may be on the rise, but most still agree that it’s a sound investment. There are, in fact, a number of personal and societal benefits associated with getting a bachelor’s degree and, it seems, people know that: Over 90 percent of Americans – across all races and socioeconomic statuses – aspire to attend college.

Despite these aspirations, only about a third of Americans currently hold bachelor’s degrees. And the gap between those who aspire to go to college and those who actually achieve a degree is much larger for students from some backgrounds than for others.

As a team of social scientists from the University of Southern California and University of Michigan, we had a question: Why are the gaps between aspiration and attainment wider for some groups of students? And can we reduce that gap?

College is a resource: More is better

Having a bachelor’s degree is associated with significantly higher average lifetime earnings, longer life and better health. Bachelor’s degree holders are more likely to get married and less likely to get divorced.

College graduates are also good for communities and societies. Neighborhoods with college-educated parents have better schools, as college-educated people contribute more to the tax base. Local and national economies are better off with more educated workers. Countries with a more educated population have stronger democracies and more civic participation.