The price of college education is often justified by statistics claiming that money invested in a college education will ultimately be reimbursed by greater earnings. Recent studies say that individuals who have a college degree earn twice as much as individuals who only have a high school diploma. Despite these facts, the cost of a college education can still pose significant sticker shock and prove difficult to repay after graduation.
There is no need to debate whether the cost for college education is too high, or just right. In the United States there are more than 4,400 colleges to choose from, and you can attend some of them for free, or you can spend more than 60,000 dollars a year in tuition. Community colleges are commonly known to be affordable options, but if you are determined to attend a pricier school then there are also grants, scholarships, and financial aid which can make college education costs more affordable.
What is debatable is whether or not college education costs are worth incurring at all. When you remove the rarer cases from the equation, the people who achieved full scholarship, or who are able to attend top tier private universities no matter what the cost, what remains is the average cost for full time students at public universities. In the 2011 to 2012 academic year this cost was an average of 15,000 dollars, according to the College Board.
It is impossible to say that no matter who you are the cost for college education is really worth the long term debt. Unfortunately, many of the latest graduates were fed that exact claim. Growing up, we were told that we could never work anywhere but a fast food restaurant unless we got a college degree, even though many of our parents had proven that claim false.
The result was that the demand for higher education grew so large that the price tag also grew. The National Center for Education Statistics revealed that between 1990 and 2000, enrollment only increased by 11 percent. Between 2000 and 2010, there was an enrollment increase of 37 percent. Everyone who was told to get higher education no matter what the cost, did.
So for whom is the cost worth incurring? Each person will need to decide for themselves whether they can afford the cost for college education. The decision should be influenced by the degree that the student intends to get, and what kind of salary such a degree is likely to produce. Some people are going to find more value from a community college or a trade school. Some people are better off not going to college at all.
More students need to be guided through the critical step of discovering what they want to get out of their higher education, and they need to be guided through investigating all of their options. Clearly, the college for all mentality has resulted in a large pool of highly educated people, and not enough high paying jobs to sustain them all or justify their student loan payments.