How to Make Sure College is Worth It and Save Money Too

Make money after college and save money while in college.  Possible?  Yes, if you do the right things at the beginning.  If you do what college students have traditionally done you can wind up with huge debt and low income.  Many have and millions more will without a change in the path to a degree.   Here’s what you need to know.     Source:  The New York Times.   At a time when the value of a college degree is being called into question, and when job prospects for many new graduates are grimmer than they’ve been in years, perhaps it’s no surprise to see a not-back-to-school movement spring up.  The push, which is luring a handful of select students away from the likes of Princeton, Harvard and M.I.T., is the brainchild of Peter A. Thiel, silicon valley billionaire.  A  college education remains essential for people from less privileged backgrounds says Carmen Wong Ulrich, co-founder of a three woman investment firm in New York City. “Many African-Americans and Asians can’t afford to ask the question, “Is college worth it?”  We’re not all starting from the same starting line. “Many of us are the first in our family to even attend college”, says Ms Ulrich.

I assume that you are not one of the select few destined for Princeton or Harvard and that you are, like me, first in your family to attend college.  The challenge for us is to make sure college is worth it.  We cannot afford to do otherwise.  Unfortunately, just going to college is not a guarantee that the degree at the end of the process will be worth it.

Two key factors determine the financial part of the ‘Worth it’ answer.  These are, what you can earn after you earn a degree and how much you pay to earn that degree in the first place.  Let’s begin with the last issue first – how much you pay or the inverse, how much money you can save.  By far, the biggest factor that impacts how much you pay is the college or university you attend.  Sounds simple.  It is if you have the right information.

To begin with, the average net tuition being paid at many colleges and universities is at an average almost 50% off of the listed tuition cost.  That means that you can save almost half of the cost by wisely selecting the college you attend.  Details are available in Your Future is Calling.

There are excellent independent data sources about income earned with various degrees.  We will look at one case study here.  As part of a larger study I was asked to look at the financial potential for a graduate of a two year college program in any one of six careers.

Preschool teacher,Paralegal, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Registered Nurse, Dental Hygienist, Occupational Therapy Assistant.

The data sources used for this analysis were O*NET, COLLEGENavigator, and SalarySurfer.  Looking at the income two years before and two years after graduation for California Community College graduates in these six careers show a rate of financial return of over 1,500% for the weighted career average. I know of no other investment that even comes close to this financial return.  The bottom line is that it is possible to make sure college is worth it.  See Your Future is Calling for more details.

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