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Should You Go To College?

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Is it worth the money?

Does it make financial sense to attend college considering how much a college education can cost? Why are you planning to attend college? Are you wanting to have the college experience, get an education, or to get a better job? Prior to making the decision to attend college, you should ask yourself these types of questions. The answers vary greatly depending on your career goal. The short answer seems to be, from a financial point of view, college is expensive and can take over 20 years to pay for itself. This estimate is based on earning around $32,000 and assuming a 14% increase in salary from earning a bachelor’s degree (US News). Under some payment plans, student direct loans can be forgiven after a specific amount of time (such as 20 years). There are currently multiple federal programs that can reduce your student loan debt, or the number of payments required for forgiveness. See our article on Jobs That Pay For College.

Photo by Jonathan Cosens Photography on Unsplash

Breaking it all down

If your goal is to be a schoolteacher in Missouri, the average starting salary in Missouri for a teacher is $32,000 (NEA). The going rate for tuition in the Missouri area is about $10,000 per year (US News). Since this cost doesn’t include room and board, your full cost of attendance will be around $25,000 per year to attend college in Missouri at a state school. Accounting for room and board, the cost of a bachelor’s degree would be about $100,000. For a teacher making $32,000 a year, paying 14% of your income toward college, it would take 22 years to pay for itself.

Of course, jobs pay a wide range of salaries. A Lot of higher paying jobs require a bachelor’s level degree or more. For example, if you want to be an engineer or a scientist, you will need to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree. You will also need a bachelor’s degree if you are interested in becoming a military officer or a 777 pilot. Luckily, there are scholarships and other financial awards that can reduce your college expenses. Some companies or government programs will cover college costs for certain job types. Clearly, whether or not attending college makes financial sense, is a complex issue.

Let’s create a checklist to help us answer the question at hand.

  • Why are you interested in attending college?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • Can you achieve your goals without a degree?
  • If you need a degree, what degree or level of degree do you need?
  • What types of grants or scholarships can you apply for to help pay for your degree?
  • Would you be able to reach your career goals by attending a vocational or technical school?
  • Could you start at a local community college to lower your overall cost of attendance? Be sure to take courses that help you reach your desired degree and not just general studies courses. Community college is a great option for students who aren’t sure what their career goals are yet.

maybe college is the right answer after all

There are many options for paying for school and to reduce the costs. See our article on Five Ways To Save Money in College. Basically, our recommendation is to carefully analyze what is best for you and your long-term goals. Only you are able to determine what you really want out of life and if having a bachelor’s level degree is part of your life plan. If college is part of your plan, then there are ways to make it happen while reducing costs. Additionally, there are also great 2-year programs that lead to great careers. For example, aircraft maintenance often can pay well with an associate level 2-year degree. If your only interest in college is to take part in the “party life” there are cheaper ways to achieve this lifestyle. But, if you have a career path in mind and it is a well-paying one, maybe college is the right answer after all.

If you are looking for more college tips, visit us at our home page here.

Average Cost of College US News 
Worth the Cost US News 
Average Teacher’s Salary Missouri NEA
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