College Return on Investment – Are Student Loans Worth It Anymore?

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After four years of higher learning, many graduates leave school just to find high unemployment. Despite improvements to the economy over the last two years, graduates are finding themselves with an average of $27,000 in student debt and few opportunities to pay it off without missing payments and perhaps even going into default.  It is a problem that students and parents (usually the loan co-signer) need to address before applying for student loans.

If a student is dreaming only of four years of partying out of sight from their parents and has no idea what they are going to do next, then the parents need to refuse to sign-off on extensive loans at a four year university. There is nothing wrong or substandard about having their recently minted high school graduates attend one or two years at a local community college. They still qualify for Pell Grant programs and Federal and Private student loans. Best of all, it gives students an opportunity to pursue classes and other studies unavailable to them in high school. There are many people who have successful, satisfying careers that they never even considered as a high school student.

Despite the cost, there are degrees still worth pursuing. While a Bachelor’s Degree is no longer the sure thing to finding a higher paying job it used to be, someone with a four year program under their belt will still make more money in

their life than most people without one. Depending on the career choice, they may need to continue with school even after four years.A Master’s Degree or higher still has not lost its worth and provides students with a faster climb up the various corporate ladders. According to Kiplinger’s, these five are still among the best when it comes to earning an income versus the total student debt. The debt amounts listed below do not include the additional $27,000 from a Bachelor’s program.

 1) Medical Degree

  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Public University): $22,959
  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Private University): $41,289
  • Average Debt on Completion: $126,152
  • Monthly Loan Payment: $1,466 for ten years
  • Average Annual Income: $183,990

The job market for Doctors continues to look bright. A large percentage of the U.S. population is aging and will require on-going medical care.

2) Doctor of Pharmacology Degree

  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Public University): $14,476
  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Private University): $29,618
  • Average Debt on Completion: $66,319
  • Monthly Loan Payment: $771 for ten years
  • Average Annual Income: $106,630

By the end of 2018, the U.S. will need about 20 percent more trained Pharmacists than it has now. With full implementation of The Affordable Health Care Act on the horizon, newly graduating Pharmacists can expect to spend more time counseling their customers than actually handing over prescriptions.

3) Master of Public Health Degree

  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Public University): $18,000
  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Private University): $36,387
  • Average Debt on Completion: $44,824
  • Monthly Loan Payment: $405 for ten years
  • Average Annual Income: $90,970

Public Health Managers and Administrators are in higher demand now and will be for some time by states, counties and cities to help implement preventive care and disaster preparedness programs. They will also be essential in helping to implement The Affordable Health Care Act.

4) Master of Business Administration Degree

  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Public University): $18,345
  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Private University): $49,921
  • Average Debt on Completion: $34,691
  • Monthly Loan Payment: $403 for ten years
  • Average Annual Income: $84,650

The MBA may actually be the safest bet for anyone chasing an advance degree in the next decade. Businesses are still making cuts despite some recent improvements to the economy and are very hesitant to hire someone without an MBA

5) Law Degree

  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Public University): $18,461
  • Average Annual Tuition and Fees (Private University): $35,622
  • Average Debt on Completion: $82,601
  • Monthly Loan Payment: $960 for ten years
  • Average Annual Income: $129,020

Of these five, the Law Degree may be the riskiest in the next decade. Law schools are currently projected to graduate more lawyers than there are positions for. The average income is also deceptive; while the starting salary at well-known firms can be around $160K, the average income for a public defender is only about $42,000.

Conclusion

So, is $27,000 of debt worth spending four years in school rather than earning an income and beginning the climb up the ladder of your chosen employment? For many people, the answer is still yes. Despite having to repay student loans, the average person with a four year degree will out earn his counterpart without one long before retirement begins to loom on the horizon.

For those students who can qualify for those student loans and continue on with a graduate program, the chances at a higher income still continue to climb. It depends on the dedication of the student and the career they wish to pursue. Every student and their parents need to sit down and carefully examine what they wish to accomplish with their degree and how they are going to pay for it.

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