College Degrees Still Worth the Investment?

by Amanda Greisman

College is thought to provide opportunities for graduates not available to those not pursuing higher education. However, the increases in the price of college and the decline in wages for those with degrees are making people question the importance of college and if it really is worth the investment.

Mary Beth Marklein argues that a college degree is still worth the investment. One point was that college graduates, whether they earn a bachelor’s degree or an associates degree, will still tend to earn more money over their lifetime versus those who do not go to college, information found based on 4 decades of analysis. And even though wages have declined for those who have earned college degrees, they have also declined for those who did not receive a college education, and the gap between the two is still at an all time high, with those people who earned college degrees earning much more money in their occupations.

Another point made was that even though student loan debt has soared by the end of 2013, a federal reserve study on data of wages for ages 16-64 for those without a degree, with an associates, and with a bachelors had shown that those with a bachelors degree have kept a return on investment of 15%, where 7% return is sound. This proves that even with student debt rising, the return on investment proves the investment is definitely worth it. Majors were also found to play a role on the returns of investment, where some majors can earn a return of 21%.

Some facts stated in the article were that over 4 decades, a bachelors degree will earn an average of about 56% more than a high school diploma and an associates will earn 21% more. However, studies have shown that the earnings of bachelors and associates degrees over high school diplomas has decreased from where they were in the years 1982-2001 to 2001-2013. Along with this statistic, the wages have declined over these same time spans. So the question is, even though those with a bachelors or associates degree do tend to make more money, is this decline in wage and earnings a permanent reversal in the demand of college graduate’s skills, or is it just a phase that will pass?

Marklein, M. College Degree Still Worth the Investment, Data Suggest. USA Today. Retrieved on October 5, 2014

The Rise in Tuition Is Slowing, But College Still Costs More

by Shae Spicer

The costs of tuition and fees to attend college have been rapidly increasing for years, even decades, but this increase may be slowing according to data from recent years. This news comes as a relief to students and families who are struggling to find ways to make the investment in paying for a college education. However, even though the increase in sticker price to attend college is slowing, there is a rise in what students are actually paying when you subtract the financial aid they receive.

Although even in the most recent years tuition and fees are still going up from year to year, the rise is much smaller than in the growth in past years. Both public and private four-year institutions have seen the effects of the slow in the rise of the sticker price to attend in the past year because they have both seen the smallest one-year percentage increase of the tuition and fees in decades. However, the net prices of what students and families actually pay to attend college minus all of the forms of financial aid they receive have been increasing more and more in recent years because the growth in financial aid has not been keeping up with the increase in tuition prices.

The average net price that students and families paid was actually much lower at the height of the recession than it is now when some families are still trying to recover from the recession because there is no longer a rapid increase, but a decline in the amount of grant aid supplied by states and the federal government while tuition and fees prices are still going up each year. Some families are able to pay for a postsecondary education with no problem, but many students and families nowadays rely on subsides to pay for a college education. Although financial aid is obviously still present, it is no longer increasing by any substantial amount like it was in previous years during the recession.

Pushing for more financial aid from the states and federal government may not be the answer though, because it will only temporarily bail families out since the net prices of colleges are still likely to increase from year to year. The real problem that needs to be addressed is for college leaders and policymakers to evaluate what it really costs to supply a college education, and how to overall sticker price, therefore lowering the net price for students and families.

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/10/24/the-rise-in-tuition-is-slowing-but-college-still-costs-more?page=2

Cost of College

by Justin Clatworthy

The value of a college education is undeniable. However, the cost to attend college has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. The cost has increased more than four times faster than inflation in that same period of time. Some university’s tuition has risen to over $60,000 a year for a four year degree.

 The returns on the large cost of attending college vary depending on the degree that someone earns. A person that graduates with a degree in computer science is likely to make more than $1.7 million more than someone with no degree over the course of 20 years. The opposite of this is that a person with a degree in humanities and English will be more than $132,000 behind someone with no degree over that same span of time. It is believed that if universities had a greater incentive in the success of their students after graduation they would push them to more financially satisfying degrees. This discrepancy would possibly begin to correct itself if the job market were to improve.

 Another way to improve this discrepancy is to lower the overall cost of college. One of the main reasons that the price has increased so much is that tuition is going to things other than education. These include new dormitories, athletics, and numerous administrators. Another method that is starting to be used to lower the cost of college is online classes. The downside to online courses is that many American universities do not give respectable degrees to those students that took online courses.

“Making College Cost Less.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 05 Apr. 2014. Web. <http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21600120-many-american-universities-offer-lousy-value-money-government-can-help-change>.

Pay It Forward, Pay It Back

by Mike Ciaverelli

Oregon proposed a program that would allow students to attend state colleges tuition free. This proposal, called the “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” program would have students go through their higher education without the stress of taking out loans and racking up a lot of interest and massive debt. They would do this by paying the state back a small portion of their income over the course of about 20 to 25 years. After graduating, the student would pay 0.75% of their yearly income per year of schooling. This means a 4 year student would end up paying 3% interest for the time that they are paying. This interest would be put into a trust fund that would help other students in the future.

There are some problems with this proposed plan. One problem is the massive cost that the states would have to pay to start this program. Washington looked into the feasibility of this plan for their state and determined that it could cost as much as 1.4 billion dollars a year. Also, because the payment plan is based on the income of the students after they graduate, it may drive the top students away from state schools if they believe that a portion of their possibly higher income will be taken away from them over the next 20-25 years.

Although this plan is not perfect, it may be a step in the right direction to help students pay for their education without amassing a large amount of debt.

Should college students pay higher interest than banks?

by Stephen Fortin

College costs have been steadily increasing since the 1970’s. As of late, the costs have continued to sore at an even faster pace. Accompanying the rise in college education costs is student loan debt. In fact, the recent 2012 grad owes over $29,000 in student loans. This is up from more than just over $9,000 in 1993. With this increasing burden on America’s younger generation it would seem logical to lower the federal interest rate on student loans.

 Current students are paying about 4.66% interest on student loans, although there are many others who have interest rates which are locked in at above 9%. It seems obvious that higher education is vital to America’s economical future. Having a well educated public defines a society and an economy. Despite this however, lawmakers are rejecting proposals to lower federal student loan interest rates. In fact, government seems to believe banks should pay lower interest rates on federal loans than students. Banks pay a rock-bottom interest rate of only 0.75%.  College costs are a huge issue plaguing the prospective college student, but it seems the government prefers to see banks prosper than young Americans invest in their own futures.

 As many Americans struggle with paying back college debt the government seems to turn a cold shoulder. College costs and debt should never be a matter of politics; yet as many struggle to pay back debts, government struggles to see the problem in favoring banks over students.

 Quandt, Katie. “College Has Gotten 12 times More Expensive in One Generation.” Mother Jones. N.p., 3 Sept. 2014. Web. 21 Sept. 2014. <http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/college-tuition-increased-1100-percent-since-1978>.