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What's an artium baccalaureus worth?

Instead, today's institutes of higher learning prefer to convey such notions as "counter-hegemony", "imperialistic legacy", and of course "the dialogic process of being human". The quotes come from the American Educational Research Association, a professorial group in which unrepentant past bomb-tosser/ present education-prof William Ayers is an honored member. As an equally unrepentant Lefkowitz supporter and Western Civ enthusiast, I choose to let that matter be and focus instead on the crassly fiscal side of the higher-ed cost-benefit equation. How does paying Middlebury $50K for four years, a total of $200K, work out in terms of career profitability and future retirement security, compared with putting the same amount into market investments and watching them grow, under the magic of compound interest, for the 44 years between graduation age 21 and retirement age 65?

The answer can be found on the Web (www.ameriprise.com) in the form of a savings calculator. If you plug the cost of an A.B., $200,000 (four years of tuition at full sticker price) into the formula, and instead invest and grow it at 6% for 44 years, it shows that the now-65-year-old retiree has a nest-egg of $2.8 million. Actually, 6% growth is a bit conservative, because the long-term investment history of the equities markets has been just over 8%. Let's equally conservatively have the retiree live off his earnings at 5%: that would be an annual stipend of $140,000 without even touching the principal. If the would-be-student had been planning on paying half the sticker price, and then chose not to, the formula would start with $100,000 not spent for tuition and end up with a nest-egg of $1.4 million, The annual retiree stipend would be $70,000. And if the would-be-student had avoided four years of a $12,500 tuition cost, his nest-egg would start with $50,000, grow to $700,000 by retirement, and throw off $35,000 in annual passive income. By way of comparison, median personal income in Vermont was $37,000 in 2007, mostly actively earned, not passively received.

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