Here is a link to Poorer by Degrees, a new short documentary by Jennifer Shuberth, a former faculty member at Portland State University: http://vimeo.com/95828754.
The documentary questions the premise that our economic growth requires a dramatic increase in the number of college graduates. Indeed, it suggests that the increased emphasis on completing degrees may actually just be increasing the pool of over-qualified applicants for all levels of employment and forcing less educated workers out of the workforce. In effect, a college degree has become increasingly necessary to find employment, but that employment is no longer guaranteed to provide a sufficient salary to offset the personal debt that increasingly must be incurred to complete the degree.
The documentary shows that the biggest proponent of increased college completion rates has been the Lumina Foundation, which, not coincidentally, has been funded by Sallie Mae, the largest holder of student debt.
The documentary also makes the very noteworthy point that the Lumina Foundation has not advocated any increased public investment in—spending on–public higher education.
The following point is not made in the documentary, but given the broader observations that the documentary makes about on the impact of economic class on who is winning and losing in the competition for employment, it seems especially troubling that Lumina has placed particular emphasis on increasing degree completion among economically disadvantaged groups, when those groups are the most likely to incur debt and the least likely to find well-paying employment immediately after graduating.
In any case, whether you completely agree with the documentary’s view of Lumina or not, it does very convincingly make the case that simply increasing the number of people with college degrees is not going to solve the broader issues with employment and wages that are critical to the future of the U.S. economy and of the American middle-class.