The Tax Foundation has an interesting graphic on the relationship between incomes and levels of education.
It is more than ironic that those, such as President Obama, who advocate for increased government funding for student aid would then decry the inequality that results from a growing class of college-educated workers. Last year, Census reported that "for the first time ever, more than 30 percent of U.S. adults 25 and older had at least a bachelor's degree...As recently as 1998, fewer than one-quarter of people this age had this level of education."
Census data also shows that in 2010, a worker with a high school degree made an average of $50,561, while a person with a bachelor's degree made an average of $94,207 - 86 percent more. Someone with a master's degree made an average of $111,149 - roughly 120 percent more. In 2010, there were 5.6 million more Americans with bachelor's degrees than in 1998 and nearly 3.5 million more with master's degrees. The income differences are even more extreme for those with professional degrees or doctorates.
This raises two questions for those who advocate for using the tax code to address inequality. First, how will higher tax rates on highly educated individuals make them less successful? And, how will taxing the educated rich somehow make the legions of workers with high school degrees more successful?
Either way, a higher tax bill should not be the price of a college diploma.
Regarding the final sentence, I think the Tax Foundation has it backwards because higher incomes net of taxes is the benefit of a college diploma. Regarding their raised questions, my answer to the first is "they won't", at least, not at the present marginal rates. To the second, it depends. The bottom line is that, more than ever, getting through high school isn't enough for making a successful living in the 21st century.