A college degree is an investment that has the potential to pay a lifetime of dividends. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections found workers with a college credential have lower unemployment rates and earn more money than those with only a high school diploma. But, the rising costs of tuition, books, and housing pose a problem for many would-be students.
“Free money,” i.e., grants and scholarships, are rarely enough to cover tuition bills. Some college-bound will either apply for student loans, delay enrollment, or shun higher education altogether.
Here are six things to consider before deciding whether a college degree is worth the expense.
- Fewer jobs are hiring individuals who have only a high school diploma. It's not just the six-figure positions that might demand that you hold a college credential. Two-thirds of jobs require workers to have at least some college education. While a college degree doesn't guarantee that you'll get a specific job, it can at least put you in the running for one.
- Your financial aid award package may not be enough to pay for college. Unless you can supplement the aid you receive from the college with savings or a part-time job, you may need to apply for student loans. The majority of 2019 college graduates (62%) graduated with an average of $28,950 in student loan debt. Your debt amount may be more or less, depending on your circumstances.
- You might still need additional licenses and certifications. If you're interested in medicine, law, teaching, or accounting, you might need a license or certification to work in your chosen field, even if you have a college degree. States and counties differ, but be prepared to pay for additional testing and professional fees for specific careers.
- Degree majors matter. While simply having a college degree can distinguish you from other job applicants, your chosen college major could lead to higher median earnings. For example, health, business, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors have higher entry-level job earnings than education, human services, and art-related majors. The top majors earn $3.4 million more over a lifetime when compared to the lowest-paying majors.
- Most colleges offer career assistance for students and alumni. Even before you graduate, you should visit the career services or career engagement office on campus. Staff can help you explore your career options, tighten up your resume, and even provide job leads. Alumni can also use the office to connect with potential employers throughout their professional career.
- Your career choice may not require a college degree. An associate or bachelor's degree isn't the only path to a satisfying career with good pay. For example, certain high-paying jobs in the medical and technology fields only require a certificate to obtain an entry-level position. These jobs place a greater emphasis on vocational training and work experience.
Higher education isn't the best choice for everyone, but for certain career paths it’s a great way to increase your earning potential. As you consider your options, weigh the benefits against your short- and long-term career and financial goals. If you're ready to hit the books, but federal student aid isn't enough to cover expenses, a Logix Smart Option Student Loan® by Sallie Mae® might be the ideal solution. This no-origination fee private student loan is the easy funding choice for creditworthy borrowers. Apply now or learn more by speaking with a representative today at (800) 328-5328.
*Logix Federal Credit Union is not affiliated with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, TICAS, Georgetown University, or The Balance Careers, and is a separate entity. Please contact Logix at (800) 328-5328 or visit www.lfcu.com if you have any questions about this topic or would like to consider opening an account.