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Back to School ?

a collegeAre you starting your final years of high school? Have you already graduated? What’s next? Will you go to college? Enter a trade school? Proceed directly into the workforce? Your choice will affect your career and your future earnings. More specifically, additional education and training normally have a positive impact on the money you earn in the future.

There are costs and benefits of college education. Education is the level of formal knowledge and training you have attained. As a general rule, the more education you have, the higher your income. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, gaining more education past high school takes precious time and usually costs a lot of money.

For instance, assume you want to go to college. Do you have any idea what it will really costs? Take a look at these figures:

Average College Costs in the year 2000

College Type
State (non-res.)
State (resident)

These costs include tuition, a dorm room and cafeteria meal plan, fees, books, and spending money for things like gas and pizza. Needless to say, going to college is not cheap. Fortunately, there are many financial resources available in the form of scholarships, grants, and student loans.

You have to give up an average of four years of earnings to go to college – remember opportunity costs – as well as pay for four years of college expenses. So what are the benefits? Other than the education itself, is there an impact on your future earnings? Most definitely. Take a look:

Earnings (Annual)
No High School Diploma
High School Diploma
Some College
Bachelor’s Degree
Professional Degree

This chart shows that for an average family, completing a high school education is worth about an extra $14,000 per year (compared to a high school dropout). But a college degree nearly doubles your earnings over a high school diploma – that’s almost $30,000 a year extra!

You tell me, is it worth it?

source: National Endowment for Financial Education