For years, people have been telling American teenagers and young adults that if they want a good profession and make a decent living, they will need a diploma from a traditional four-year college. However, the cost of tuition and other things involved with continuing education is inflating every year and it leads some Americans to wonder if a college degree is even worth it anymore. The average tuition cost for out-of-state students at a four-year community college last year was $22,958, while the average tuition cost for a private college was $31,000. Aside from tuition, most students also have to pay for room and board, books, transportation, and many students are living on their own for the first time and have to pay for other living expenses. The average dorm costs between $10,000 and $11,000. To obtain a four year degree, some students can rack up more than $100,000 in debt. Americans are beginning to wonder if colleges are still a good investment.
Choose a College Carefully
When picking a college, keep in mind that the costs can differ widely between colleges. If you don’t mind staying in the same state, you can save a lot of money by paying only in-state public tuition. If you don’t want a four year degree, two-year schools cost even less.
So Is It Still Worth It?
If you are looking at going to college you may have noticed that the average tuition is spiraling out of control. Over the past 30 years, college tuition has risen 7% a year. Since 1985, college tuition has risen at least 210%. According to one study, some universities have risen as much as 500%. You may think that with average inflation, tuition has stayed the same, however college tuition has risen much faster than other expenditures. While college tuition may have increased as much as 500%, the consumer price index increased only 115% the past 30 years.
While it may seem hopeless, there are some ways to keep the cost down.
- Most college students receive a discount on their tuition in the form of scholarships and grants.
- Also, students may pay less than half of their tuition if they choose to attend a college in their home state.
- Even with these discounts, most students rely on student loans to make their degree possible.
In 2012, the average university student was at least $29,000 in debt. So is the expense still a good investment? The average annual wage of a young adult with only a high school diploma was $30,000 while the average annual wage of a young adult with a four-year college degree was $47,000. So over the course of several years, the difference in salary does make up for any student loan debt you may have racked up. However, not all college graduates agree that colleges was a good investment. Keep in mind that a student’s major will make a big difference in their salary potential. Students with degrees in communications, psychology, and fine arts will make much less money than students with degrees in engineering, marketing, and human resources.
The School Matters
Some people find that even the most expensive colleges can provide the best return for your good investment.
According to PayScale, private colleges such as
- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University
- The California Institute of Technology
- Harvey Mudd College
provide the best return even though they cost more than $200,000 for a four year degree. Keep in mind though that higher tuition does not always equal higher payoffs.
Some of the worst possible colleges to attend that cost more than $200,000 include
- Stetson University
- Ripon College
Keep in mind that some stereotypes don’t ring true. A college located in an area with high unemployment may offer less of a return than those in more employed regions. In some cases a college located in an area with high unemployment will be a good investment. However, if you’re completely lost when looking for which college to attend, they may be a good thing to keep in mind. The question has become whether or not big-name universities are the answer for all high school graduates who are looking to advance their education. The cost of college skyrocketing in recent years has changed the way that students decide which college they would like to attend. Two-year colleges and online courses may be a good investment for some people. Two-year colleges may be the best choice for some because you can earn an associate degree in several fields that are in high demand. Two-year colleges offer tuition at a fraction of the cost of four-year colleges and they require less time to earn a degree. Online courses may be a good choice for some because they can still earn bachelors and masters degrees and greatly reduce the cost.
Currently, it is still a good investment for a young adult to attend college, but they need to keep in mind of which college and major they decide to make sure they reap the best return. A minor or double major may aide in finding a good paying job after college while cutting down on the cost of tuition.