The Average Cost Of A College Education

Although the average cost of earning a four-year degree continues to rise, it is important to realize the value that degree provides. Today, the most reputable and highest paying companies look closer at job candidates who have a degree opposed to those who do not. Even if the degree has no relation to the sector, industry, or job responsibilities, to prospective employers a four-year degree tells a story of perseverance, determination, focus, and dedication. If the potential employee can push through school in spite of cost then he or she is probably going to give all in the workplace.

Of course, not everyone can afford the average cost of earning a four-year degree, which does not always mean that person is any less qualified than someone with the college education. On a positive note, someone interested in getting a degree has multiple options to help. In addition to student loans, which would be the least favorable option, other means of earning a degree exist to include government grants, money gifts, company programs, and more. While it may be necessary to get creative, finishing college is a viable option for most people.

We wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the average cost of earning a four-year degree for today’s market. With this information, people would have the opportunity to decide on the best educational path, as well as financial opportunities. Keep in mind that educators and the government understand that numbers are climbing, which means more money and different resources need to be available so people can achieve their goal of a college education. As you can imagine, this has been an issue for some time and while perfect solutions do not exist, we are beginning to see change that makes it possible for more people to attend school.

As mentioned, when looking at the average cost of earning a four-year degree, potential earnings needs to be a part of the equation. The truth is that there is a payoff for the money spent but again, understanding the cost for different degrees and even different areas of interest could be helpful in choosing a career. The following shows the amount of money the average person earns throughout a lifetime for the different types of college degrees.

• Doctoral Degree – $3.4 million
• Professional Degree – $3.2 million
• Master’s Degree – $2.5 million
• Bachelor’s Degree – $2.1 million
• High School Diploma – $1.2 million

While the average cost of earning a four-year degree is on the rise, the difference in pay from someone with a high school diploma versus a Bachelor’s degree is at minimum close to $1 million over a lifetime. The cost associated with attending an in-state university is about $2,000 a month, which could easily double if attending an ivy-league university out of state. For a typical college, the average cost of earning a four-year degree would be broken down as follows. Using these numbers, you can see that most students pay around $2,000 a month to complete college.

• Tuition – $$665 a month (calculated for eight semesters)
• Books – $600 a month (calculated for eight semesters)
• Rent – $400 per month
• Food and other Incidentals – $500 a month
• Air Travel – $400 a month (travel between home and school)


Reduce The Cost of College, Lessons Learned from Other Students

One of the best ways to understand the true cost of earning a college education is to go over lessons learned from people currently attending college or those who have already graduated.  After all, these individuals have personally gone through the experience so they know first-hand what college costs but also ways of saving money.  Because this type of information is so valuable, we wanted to provide a few of the more helpful lessons learned so when you get ready to enroll in college there will be fewer surprises.

Interestingly, colleges and universities around the country conducted a study in 2009 with incredible response.  Of questionnaires sent out to individuals thinking about attending college, more than 70% responded that because of the country’s financial crisis current plans for getting a higher education were being changed.  For instance, of the 70%, 24% stated that attending a private college would likely be their choice over a public college.  In addition 16% said the rising cost of college would have a direct impact on the decision ultimately made.  Sadly, most of the prospective students said that at least for now, college may need to be put on hold.

One of the first lessons learned from people attending or who have attended college stated that anyone considering earning a degree needs to prepare starting in high school by taking the PSAT.  Similar to the college SAT, this test is a less complex version and most importantly, it is considered a qualifying exam to be offered the National Merit Scholarship for juniors, and sometimes seniors.  Now, while the number of people who actually get this type of money is relatively low and there is a slight fee to take the PSAT, the great thing is that the test is excellent in preparing people to take the SAT, meaning instead of taking multiple SATs, the information learned from the PSAT helps people pass the SAT after the first try.  As a result, more financial aid opportunities could be provided.

Another important lesson learned is that although most colleges and universities now offer a wealth of information via the internet, visiting the campus is worth the investment of time and money.  Often, prospective students will arrive on campus only to realize things that may sway them to choose a different college or university.  For instance, if the campus were out-of-state, an initial visit would help the student and family realize the true cost of travel, hotel room, dining out, etc.  With this, it may be worthwhile to consider colleges and universities closer to home.

On this same note, students like to pass on the lesson learned that getting prerequisites out of the way at a community or junior college can be a huge cost saving solution.  In this case, the student would attend a school close to home, earning a two-year degree comprised of the mandatory courses such as math, English, History, etc.  Once the Associate’s Degree has been earned, that student would then have the chance to switch to a four-year college or university for the more focused coursework.  The key in this case would be to choose a community or junior college that allows the majority, if not all credits earned to be transferred to an accredited four-year school.

Then for prospective students who are set on attending a college or university out-of-state, a valuable lesson learned shared is that if possible, sign up to attend with a friend.  That way, a dorm room or perhaps off-campus apartment or boarding house could be shared with someone known and trusted.  Unfortunately, it is fairly common for students to head off to college only to find the roommate situation is bad.  As a result, a move takes place, which adds to the overall expense.  However, by attending college with a close friend, the need to move would be eliminated.  Additionally, the two of you would have a much better respect level for costs for living, which again would keep expenses down.

The last lesson learned that can pay for some or all of your college education is to spend time researching various scholarship opportunities.  Typically, prospective students will look for academic and/or athletic scholarships and nothing else.  Not finding one they would qualify for, the students accept that much of the college expense would be their own.  In truth, hundreds of scholarships exist, some that are not just unique but actually bizarre.  For this reason, dedicating time to looking for options online would reveal all types of incredible possibilities outside of the standard academic and/or athletic scholarship arena.  When it comes to money for attending college, most people are shocked at just how much is really available.  The goal is to look at all options and look outside the box.

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