Information is readily available across the United States indicating that a degree in the arts does not guarantee a well-paying career. Evidence is now accumulating that such graduates rack up the most student-loan debt. From the perspective of investment, rather than consumption, this does not make economic sense.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of Department of Education data shows that median debt loads at graduation for graduates from schools specializing in art music and design average $21,576, which works out to an inescapable loan repayment of about $248 a month. That is a significant burden when salaries for graduates of such schools – when they can find employment – with less than five years experience, cluster around $40,000 per annum.
By comparison, graduates of research universities tend to carry much less debt than graduates of liberal- arts colleges. Median debt loads average $19,445 for liberal -arts colleges versus $18,000 for research universities.
Among the 4,000 colleges and universities in the federal data-base, the Creative Center in Omaha, Nebraska, a for-profit school, that offers a three-year bachelor’s degree in fine arts, has the highest average debt load at $52,035. Median pay for the school’s graduates with five or fewer years of experience earn an average $31,400 per annum.
New York’s Manhattan School of Music has the second highest average debt loadat $47,000. Graduates from that school with five or fewer years of experience earn an average of $42,700 per annum.
Yet still they come, like moths to the flame. When will they ever learn?
Hat Tip: Ruth Simon and Rob Barry, ‘A Degree Drawn in Red Ink’, The Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2013