Education today is arguably the most important investment that a person can make in themselves and their future. In theory, the more education and qualifications that a person holds, the more career opportunities they will have. With better opportunities, usually comes more financial security; depending on a person’s view of the “American Dream”, more money may equate to a better quality of life. If education is viewed as an investment, then just like any other investment, you need to spend money to make money.
With over 1 trillion dollars currently invested into student loans in America, many are left wondering if their return will be worth their investment. Others wonder why they should even take the risk at all. As the cost of higher education rises, a college degree becomes more of a high-risk investment rather than a high-return investment. The cost of higher education in the United States today is higher than it has ever been before, which is forcing millions of Americans to fall into thousands of dollars of debt and raise the national student debt total in pursuit of better career opportunities. The cost of tuition is rising because of higher spending by universities and because of less funding coming from government subsidies, if something is not done to change this trend there may be a decline in college enrollment and degrees earned.
For the majority of Americans, earning a college degree is their best chance of reaching the middle-class. For most, the reality may be that due to rising tuition costs at public and private universities, pursuing their education may very well put them in so much debt, they will struggle just to stay in the middle-class for most of their lives. Based on a report done by The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, college tuition and fees had increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, while the median family income rose only 147 percent within the same time period. With private university tuition exceeding $60,000 a year, and out of state costs at many state schools exceeding $40,000, some people are graduating with debt loads of $100,000 or more.
While there are cheaper options when it comes to college choices, many college students don’t think about their job outlooks after graduation. In a recent study done by the Associated Press, with the help of researchers from Northeastern University, Drexel University, and the Economic Policy Institute, based on data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and the U.S. Department of Labor, 53% of bachelor degree holders under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed.
With statistics like these, it can be really discouraging to be a college student right now. But can anything really be done to solve the challenges that college students face? As college tuition continues to rise, and the job market becomes more competitive, college students have to become much more resourceful in the ways that they pay for college and find jobs. Its a jungle out there, be careful.