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Is College Still Worth It?

March 16, 2023

Is College Still Worth It?
We have all heard the debate about whether college is still worth it. There is no question that secondary education costs are high, and some entry-level jobs pay very well. I encourage you to review the Collegeboard.org Education Pays 2023 report to find your truth. The report noted the following financial benefits regarding higher education. “In 2021, median earnings for bachelor’s degree recipients working full time were $29,000 (65%) higher than those of high school graduates”. It also stands to reason that those with an associate’s degree or trade school fare better than high school graduates. The study found the average crossover point to be age 34 when a student attaining a bachelor’s degree had their income and benefits surpass their education costs, including being out of the workforce full-time for four years. The average age dropped to 30 if the student had received average grant aid. In the previous examples, the college board used a student borrowing 100% of their costs of attending college for four years.
During good economies and recessions, the report also found the level of unemployment to be significantly lower for those with a college degree. For example, in 2022, high school graduates had a 4% unemployment rate, while those with a bachelor’s degree were at 2.1%. During tough economic years, unemployment statistics favored those with an education.
Higher education predicts better overall health outcomes as well. Health insurance benefits, vigorous weekly exercise, lower smoking, and poverty rates all improved as the level of education advanced.
The study suggests that college is the best path to longer-term success in most cases. That said, prices are high, and some students and families struggle to pay tuition, room and board, and other fees. According to the collegeboard.org trends in higher education study, the average 2022-2023 annual cost of attendance for a 4-year out-of-state public college is $40,550. The in-state total yearly cost is around $23,250. The annual average cost of a 4-year private college is $ 53,430 per year or nearly $220,000 for a bachelor’s degree. These average costs do not include daily living expenses, transportation costs, or student loan interest that may come due during the year. Also, these costs tend to rise each year with inflation.
If you decide to pursue college, be creative. If you lack the funds, look into alternatives. Community college can lessen your financial burden. Look into ct.edu/pact to see if you are eligible for tuition offsets at a community college in CT. Some students may pursue the GI Bill, and others will attend college part-time while working. Parents and students can provide a giving link to their college-saving 529 plans with some providers. This may feel like an awkward request, but you may have relatives and friends willing to help you pursue your dreams by making a gift to your 529 on birthdays, milestones, and holidays. Whatever course of action you decide, use your favorite search engine, guidance counselors, university financial aid offices, and college coaches to seek help when pursuing your dreams of higher education

Is College Still Worth It?: Please enjoy my 2/25 column/blog in the New Haven Register. 

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