Does College Pay Enough?

Why go to college? It seems like such a simple question, but given the cost of higher education, it’s really a question that you should be able to answer before you make the investment.

Your gut reaction is likely to have something to do with your ability to make more money, and that is largely, but not always true. There is plenty of research that indicates that higher levels of educational attainment correlate significantly with higher pay. The gap in pay between high school and college grads has widened in the past 30 years. In 2005, for example, people earning a 4 yr bachelor’s degree made about $14,000 more than someone with a high school diploma, and as these worker age, the gap grows so that by retirement, the college grad earns $22,000/year more than the high school grad…over the course of a lifetime, that really adds up. Did you know that There are significant benefits to society when people attend college? People with a college education volunteer at higher rates and vote more often. They also rely less on public assistance and have lower unemployment rates. Because people with a college education often earn more money, they also pay more to the government in taxes…if you’re the government, that means increased revenue, and decreased reliance on public assistance means lower expenditures for towns, cities, states and the federal government.

Barack Obama emphasized the economic power of a college education in his February 2, 2009 speech to the nation. In it he said, “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity it is a pre-requisite.” He also noted that three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma, but the number of students achieving this benchmark is far less.

So, does this mean everyone should go to college? No, I don’t think everyone should go to college, but I hope everyone will have that choice. If you are an auto- mechanic wizard, you could make as much as a starting teacher. The same can be said of plumbers or electricians.

Money should only be one factor in your career decisions!! Yes, that’s right, it’s not about the all mighty dollar, it’s about happiness too. If the activities and professions that are likely to bring you happiness and fulfillment don’t require a college degree, then pursue whatever specialized training will help you achieve your goals. If a two-year degree will get you where you want to be, you will receive benefits from that level of college education and the cost will be quite reasonable (and that’s without financial aid)).

For many, however, a college degree will help you achieve whatever professional goals and dreams may unfold, and the other accompanying benefits mean good odds of a lifetime of dividends for you and your community.