College Degree: Is It Worth It?

College Degree Worth It?

It seems like no matter where you turn as a student in high school, you are always being pushed toward earning a college degree regardless of what it costs. Most people focus on the amount of money that having the degree will help you earn, but they never talk about how much it costs in relation to whether or not the degree is actually worth the time and money.

For example, previous generations were able to earn equal or more money without a college degree compared to millennials today. In other words, your college degree, in many cases, is worth about as much as a high school diploma was forty or fifty years ago.

According to analysis of recently released Federal Reserve data on college graduates and degrees, a millennial with both a college degree and college debt earns about the same as a boomer without a degree did at the same age.

In other words, if you come out of college with your shiny new degree coupled with a shiny new payment book from your student loan lender, you will be earning less than you parents or grandparents did with simply a high school diploma.

Is My College Degree Worth It?

That depends. Some degree programs provide a better return on investment than others. A Nursing degree will almost guarantee you a job immediately out of school with nearly unlimited potential to continue earning more and growing your income. Nursing is a high demand field. On the other hand, a degree in Sociology or Art History will basically make you a very well educated barista as it will take you a long time to find a good-paying salaried job in your field.

However, all those rules change if you earn your degree with zero student loan debt. Let’s revisit that Federal Reserve data and analysis one more time for the key piece of information:

According to analysis of recently released Federal Reserve data on college graduates and degrees, a millennial with both a college degree and college debt earns about the same as a boomer without a degree did at the same age.

Did you catch it this time? If you come out of school with your degree AND massive student loan debt, you have given yourself a handicap in your career and income-earning potential. The degree could be very useful, but you have to debt to contend with.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the deal, there are very few if any college degrees that are worth going $30k, $50k, or sometimes $100k into debt for. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, basic math says otherwise. It’s taking longer to find jobs than it did even twenty years ago. So what do you do in the meantime with your huge student loan debt? You basically drown because you’re in a far worse financial situation with your degree than had you simply waited to pay for school out of pocket or deferred it entirely.

The Power of a Debt-Free Degree

It doesn’t matter what the degree is in, what matters is how much you have invested in it. If your degree in basket-weaving is totally paid for by the time you graduate, you’re in the clear. You have a degree which is an asset and you have no student loan obligations tied to it. You’re financially more secure no matter how long it takes you to find a job. Now, consider a debt-free degree in higher paying fields and you see why it’s so important to consider the costs going into your degree in relation to what happens when you finally graduate. Do yourself a favor and avoid the student loans at all costs. Then you won’t be a statistic looking for work, you’ll be financially secure and holding out for your dream job.

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