The Sept. 7 New Yorker has a thoughtful piece about what college is really worth today from an economic perspective. The piece explores and criticizes various takes from recent literature on the subject. No one's got a wholly satisfactory answer, but it's definitely a question worth considering as the economy changes and tuition costs soar. One important development highlighted is the recent stagnation in the economic "bonus" one can expect for an undergraduate degree as compared to a high school diploma — the serious income growth comes with a graduate degree.
At the very least, the article suggests, "Being more realistic about the role that college degrees play would help families and politicians make better choices. It could also help us appreciate the actual merits of a traditional broad-based education, often called a liberal-arts education, rather than trying to reduce everything to an economic cost-benefit analysis."
Read the article here.