Higher education is one of the “cornerstones” of economic opportunity, Janet L. Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve Board, said on Friday in an unusual and closely watchedspeech about growing inequality. But her remarks, given at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, did not cast higher education’s role in an entirely favorable light.
The earnings premium of a college degree has grown, Ms. Yellen said in her prepared remarks, and the “net returns for a degree are high enough that college still offers a considerable economic opportunity to most people.”
But college prices have risen much faster than family incomes, she added. College affordability and growing student debt present challenges, especially for the less-well-off. “I fear,” Ms. Yellen said, ”the large and growing burden of paying for it may make it harder for many young people to take advantage of the opportunity higher education offers.” <Read more.>