At some point in your life a teacher, school counselor or a member of your family has probably told you about the value of getting a college education. In most cases, it’s a conversation that happens when you’re figuring out what to do with your life after graduation.
With so many changes coming from the Trump administration on student loans, you may be wondering: Is getting a college degree worth it, especially when it could put you in serious student debt for years afterward? Our experts have some much-needed answers to these questions, along with plenty of statistics that give an eye-opening view into the benefits of a college degree.
So, whether you’re still considering going to college, or you’re currently enrolled and having second thoughts, here are a few reasons to get a degree in 2018 and beyond.
By the year 2020, roughly two-thirds of all jobs will require you to have a college education of some kind before ever getting hired, according to a study done by Georgetown University. Breaking this down into types of degrees, about 35 percent of jobs will require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, whereas an associate’s degree (or some college) will give you access to another 30 percent of job openings.
If you don’t attend college, however, your prospects are still pretty good at 36 percent of job openings. But as you’ll find out next, it will likely be at the expense of a decent, livable income.
Using data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree generally earned significantly more than people with an associate’s degree or high school diploma. In 2016 alone, the average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree was not only 40 percent higher per year than someone who only graduated high school, they also earned about 30 percent more than graduates with a two-year degree.
On a weekly basis, this means those who earn bachelor’s degrees average $1156 in pay, while someone with associate’s degrees earns $819. High school graduates, on the other hand, can expect to earn $692 a week. Depending on your level of education, this could equal hundreds of thousands – or in some cases, millions – of dollars in missed earnings over your lifetime.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a college education helps you avoid unemployment after you earn your degree, whether you’re fresh out of college or you’re just between jobs. Looking back to January 2017, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released information on unemployment rates for Americans, data shows that college graduates aged 25 and over had only a 2.5 percent chance of being unemployed.
The numbers aren’t as favorable for everyone, however. At the same time, those who earned an associate’s degree experienced a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, while high school graduates and drop-outs fought against a 5.3 and 7.7 percent unemployment rate respectively.
In 2014, the Pew Research Center surveyed American adults to see how getting a college degree affected their career outlook. Among employed Millennials with a college education, data shows that nearly half (46%) of those surveyed found their college education “very useful” in preparing them for their current jobs, plus it offered 63 percent of participants the education they needed to compete for future job prospects.
The same study also said that nearly every single adult with a bachelor’s degree or higher found that having a degree had already paid off (72%) – or expected it to at some time in the future (17%).
The Pew Research Center also discovered that Americans between the ages of 25 and 32 faced different poverty rates based on their college experience. For people with a high school diploma, 22 percent are considered to be living in poverty, which is far more than the seven percent who lived in poverty in 1979.
If you’re a graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher, however, your chances of living at poverty level are only six percent. Whereas people with a two-year degree or some college under their belt have a 15 percent chance of scraping by financially.
A few years ago, CollegeBoard put together a study that showed trends in higher education. Among their findings was an interesting tidbit about the benefits Americans enjoy in relation to their post-secondary educational status. Looking at retirement plans exclusively, only 52 percent of workers with high school diplomas had a job that offered one, while workers with a bachelor’s degree (65%) and advanced degrees (73%) were noticeably higher.
When it came to health insurance, the percentages weren’t any better, as high school diploma recipients had a 55 percent chance of getting employer-provided insurance. With a bachelor’s degree, that number grew to 69 percent – and even higher for those with advanced degrees at 73 percent.
Paying for college is a big concern for most people, especially when the average student debt for a college graduate is around $18,000 according to recent estimates. However, the Lumina Foundation discovered that college graduates are nearly 10 times more likely to have a bank account and relied less on other types of banking to make ends meet, including loans and credit cards.
While you may have outstanding debt on your student loans – or you’re anticipating it in the future – you’ll be glad to know that roughly 75 percent of average households with college graduates only paid seven percent towards student loan repayment. When compared against other living expenses, this meant that approximately $242 was going towards student loans in the very same households where $217 was put towards entertainment and $145 went to new clothing. If anything, this shows that when you have a college education, everything becomes much more affordable.
Want to learn how to save money on your student loans or take advantage of programs that offer repayment assistance and loan forgiveness? Simply fill out our free online form or speak with a student loan specialist at (800) 771-6358 to find out how!