Is college worth the cost? Advantages vs. disadvantages (2023)

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If you're in high school, chances are career counselors, teachers, and other well-meaning adults have been telling you over and over that you need to go to college to make a living. But is a college degree worth it?

The cost of going to college has increased significantly since your parents went to school. In the last decade, costs have increased by more than 25% and most graduates leave school with substantial amountsStudent loan debt.

Nevertheless, a bachelor's degree can pay off in the long term. Here's what to consider when deciding if college is right for you.

How much does college cost?

If you plan on going to college, be prepared for sticker shock.

The Faculty Councilreported that the average total cost of attending public school for students in the state is $27,330 per year, while thetotal cost of careat private universities an average of $55,800 per year.

If you graduate in four years, your degree will cost anywhere from $109,320 to $223,200, depending on the school type.

Even if you are entitled to financial assistance, includinggrantseconcessions, this price may surprise. Before you pay your application fees, be sure to ask yourself, "Is college worth it for me?"

Why is studying worthwhile? 3 reasons to consider

Studying is worthwhile for many people. Not only will you gain valuable life experience and form lasting connections, but a college degree will also give you the following benefits:

1. Graduates earn more than non-graduates

Despite the rising cost of post-secondary education, a college degree is still worthwhile for most graduates. On average, bachelor's graduates earn significantly more than their peers with only a high school diploma.

How much more? The median salary for workers with high school diplomas is $38,792, and they have an average unemployment rate of 3.7% in 2019, according to an analysis of data from Northeastern University's Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the other hand, the average wage for workers with a bachelor's degree is $64,896, and their unemployment rate averages just 2.2%.

Over the course of their careers, graduates can earn hundreds of thousands more than those who don't go to college.

2. Most jobs require college education

In previous generations, a college education was not necessary to earn a middle-class income. AccordinglyGeorgetown University Education and Labor Center, two-thirds of jobs before the 1980s required a high school diploma or less.

This is no longer the case. Georgetown University predicts that 70% of all jobs will require a college education by 2027.

Without a college education, it can be more difficult to find a well-paying job and competition for the opportunities available will be fierce.

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3. University graduates are more likely to have health insurance

With healthcare costs skyrocketing, quality health insurance is essential to your well-being. Purchasing health insurance on your own, however, can be prohibitively expensive. AccordinglyKaiser Family Foundation, the benchmark premium for individual policies purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace is $462 per month or $5,544 per year.

What does that have to do with college? You may not know it, but there is a significant link between higher education and health insurance.

College graduates are much more likely than high school graduates to have employer-provided coverage that offsets their healthcare costs.The Faculty Councilfound that 64% of workers with a bachelor's degree and 70% of workers with an advanced degree had employer-provided insurance, while employer plans covered only 52% of college graduates.

3 reasons why college isn't worth it

While a four-year degree can be valuable for many students, a bachelor's degree is not necessary for everyone. Before going to college, consider the following cons:

1. You'll probably end up with student loan debt

With college costs skyrocketing, it's unlikely that your savings or earnings from a part-time job will be able to cover the entire cost. Instead, you'll probably need to usestudent loanscover at least part of the cost. AccordinglyInstitute for University Access and Success, 62% of college graduates in 2019 left school withstudent loansdebt, with an average balance of $28,950.

Based on yoursStudent Loan Repayment Schedule, you can be in debt for 10 to 30 years. With your minimum monthly payments, you may feel pressure to put off other financial goals, like saving for retirement or buying a home.

2. High paying jobs are not guaranteed

While a college degree is often advertised as a path to wealth, the job market can be more difficult than you would expect.

Especially with the coronavirus pandemic that caused tens of millions of people to file for unemployment in 2020, finding a well-paying job after graduation can be difficult.

The average starting salary for college graduates is around51.000 $, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. While this is a comfortable income for most, many graduates will earn less. And if you have weightstudent loansDebts that exceed your income can make it difficult for you to make ends meet.

3. The degree may take more than four years to complete

When it comes to earning a bachelor's degree, you probably expect to graduate in four years. However, this cannot be realistic.The National Research Center of the Student Chamberfound that only 58% of students enrolling in college in 2012 graduated within six years. The rest of the students were either still in school or had dropped out.

For each additional year you are in school, you will incur additional expenses and will likely have to take on more student loan debt to pay for your education. If it takes you six years or more to graduate, you can leave school with even more debt, and it can be difficult to get out of it.

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Alternatives to college

Is college education worth it? Not for everyone. If you decide that attending a four-year school is not the right decision for you, there are other avenues you can use to make a good income.

Community College

Attending a community college is significantly cheaper than attending a four-year college or university. AccordinglyThe Faculty Council, the average tuition at a community college in the district is only $3,770.

At a community college, you can earn an associate degree or pursue certificate programs that lead to stable careers. For example, the following jobs require two-year degrees and have above-average salaries:

  • Radiation Therapist:$ 80.160
  • Computer programs:79.840 $
  • Dental hygienist:72.910 $
  • State-certified nurse:68.450 $
  • Telecom installer:53.640 $

trade school

Commercial schools, vocational schools or technical schools offer practice-oriented training for various training occupations. Programs are typically much shorter than university programs, with students graduating in six months to two years.

The cost of attending trade school is much less than attending a four-year school. The average cost to complete a program is $33,000.

There is a growing demand for skilled artisans and you can earn a comfortable income. For example, these are the average earnings for the following companies, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Electrician:56.180 $
  • Plumber:55.160 $
  • Carpenter:48.330 $
  • Mechanic:42.090 $

training camp

If you are interested in software and web development, attending a coding boot camp can be a path to a potentially lucrative career. AccordinglyThe course report, the average bootcamp program only lasts 14 weeks, and you could land a new job in data science, app development, or cybersecurity.

The average cost of attending a coding bootcamp is $13,500, and the average starting salary for bootcamp graduates is $67,000.


If you have a business idea, entrepreneurship might be a better career path than going to college. As an entrepreneur, you can be your own boss and determine your own salary. The average salary for entrepreneurs is about $43,000 per year.

However, remember that starting your own business can be risky and it can take several years for your business to turn a profit. For help developing your ideas and creating a business plan, take advantage of the resources offered by USA. Small business administration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why does the course cost so much?

There are many reasons for thatTuition costs have increasedto their current level over time. Demand for a degree has increased as more jobs require at least a bachelor's degree for employment. The services schools provide to students (and the staff needed to administer them) have also expanded, bloating college operating budgets.

Public agencies are also facing cuts in the funding they receive from state and local governments. This lack of funding is passed on to students in the form of higher prices.

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Which college degree should I do?

Choice of a specializationIt's one of the biggest decisions you'll make as a student. If you are undecided, first consider your skills and interests. You can also take some online career tests to get an idea of ​​possible careers.

Once you have a list of options, do some research on what each career really looks like. Check out the type of setting each job works in and potential salaries. You should also consider how much time you want to devote to your education. Does the desired job require a bachelor's degree or do you still need further training after graduation?

How much does an online college cost?

Online degree prices vary widely by school, program, and level of education. According to US News, the average total tuition cost for an online bachelor's degree ranges from $38,496 to $60,593.

Several factors can affect the cost of online college. Public schools often cost less than private schools, and state residents may also qualify for lower rates — even if you attend classes virtually.

How much do college applications cost?

The average college application fee is about $45, with some schools charging as much as $90 or $100 per application. Highly competitive schools tend to charge more; Cornell and Dartmouth, for example, charge $80 each.

If you're concerned about application costs, many colleges offer fee waivers to eligible students. Usually, you must be on a low income to be eligible.

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How can I get study aid?

The most important step in getting financial help is sending theFree Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the only way you can benefit from government study grants such as scholarships, work and study opportunities and student loans.

States and schools also offer their own additional help, usually based on the information you provide in your FAFSA. Failure to submit this important form could result in you missing out on free funds such as grants or scholarships.

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