Is a college degree worth it? It's been an ongoing debate for years, but it caught fire this year with a number of studies questioning the value of college and prominent figures arguing that college is losing its luster. In April, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who offers students scholarships to drop out of college and put their entrepreneurial skills to work, called higher education a bubble. Later, the Pew Research Center released a study that found that a majority of Americans believe the U.S. higher education system fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend. A number of op-ed columns followed, some haranguing universities, others taking their side. Meanwhile, a new report showed that college seniors who graduated with student loans in 2010 owed an average of $25,250, an all-time record. And for the first time, the outstanding student-loan debt hit $1 trillion, more than all the U.S. credit-card debt combined. But in the background of the intense debate is this fact: while the job market for college graduates is poor, it's much worse for those who didn't attend college.