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Is College Still Worth It? Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Registration for this event is closed.

Conference Dates: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 | 5-7 p.m. CT
Welcome dinner reception
Thursday, May 24, 2018 | 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. CT
Includes closing dinner reception from 5-6:30 p.m.
Location: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza
Broadway and Locust St.
St. Louis, Mo. 63102 (map it)

As college tuition rises, student debt levels soar, and stories circulate about college-educated baristas, Americans are wondering: Is college really worth it? Is it worth the cost, burdensome loans, and time out of the workforce or away from family? And doesn't it seem like previous generations both paid less and generated much larger returns? At the same time, kids and adults rightly believe that college—or at least some postsecondary education—is more essential to economic success than ever. What explains this conundrum?

Recent research from the St. Louis Fed's Center for Household Financial Stability shows that the economic return on college is, in fact, large, though unequal across the population and diminishing across successive generations of college graduates. Moreover, the college economic return increasingly appears to be influenced by one's parents, especially by their level of education, as well as by one's race or ethnicity. If factors out of one's control influence the college return, what will it take to make college worth it for current and future generations?

We will address these and other critical questions by using newly available data from the Fed’s historical Survey of Consumer Finances and other national data sets, as well as by hearing from national education experts.

We are pleased that the University of Michigan's Susan Dynarski will give the keynote speech at our event. Dynarski is one of the nation's premier researchers and thought leaders on education, a regular contributor to The New York Times, and a "Top Ten Influencer," according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The registration deadline is Friday, May 18. Cost for attendance is $75 per participant. Verified students may register for free; however, there are limited student spots available.

Space is limited, so early registration is recommended, as previous events presented by the Center have sold out quickly. Registration fees include breakfast, lunch and two catered dinner receptions.

For more information, including questions related to student registration, please contact Ana Kent at 314-444-8554 or

Hotel Accommodations
Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch
315 Chestnut Street
St. Louis, MO 63102

A select number of rooms have been reserved at a special rate of $139 per night, plus applicable fees and taxes. Rooms will be available at this rate until Wednesday, May 2 (or until they are sold out). Ask for the "HFS Symposium" rate when you contact the hotel at 314-655-1234, or register online.