There's been a rising consensus in the past year: going into massive debt for an Ivy league education is a bad idea. The degree just isn't worth the loans. In fact, though the College Board regularly puts out a graph showing how college grads earn more than those who stop at high school, former political science professor Laura McKenna recently expressed a desire to see the breakdown for private versus public colleges: "Does a $50,000 tuition education at Sarah Lawrence give you a better return than a state college?"
Thorfinn, a writer on the popular Gene Expression blog, suggests that it does. He examines some studies on the value of school degrees, arguing that even with the large expense and debt, going to a more expensive, higher-ranked college pays off. Thorfinn tracks down a slide in which a research team from Harvard-Berkeley-Northwestern team graphs US News & World Report college rankings against a person's "mean earnings at age 28":
This graph, Thorfinn explains, shows not only that your college has a big effect on your income at 28. It also shows that the relationship isn't linear: going to a top-ranked school gives someone nearly a $30,000/year advantage over a person who went to a school ranked 50th, but going to the 75th-ranked school yields little more money than going to the one ranked 125th. Over time, the advantage at the top adds up.