Whether you’re getting ready to finish high school or considering a mid-life career change, the option of going to college is something you’re probably considering. It’s difficult to know if seeking higher education is in your best interests without a little research. Fortunately, studies have been conducted on this very topic and the findings may surprise you.
How Does a College Degree Affect Your Income Potential?
Traditionally, it has long been held as true that the higher one’s education, the greater the earnings potential. While a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree often qualified individuals for higher earning positions in the workforce at one time, the playing field is now becoming more level for those without a college education. Financial future can be attained today without climbing as high in the academic arena.
The study conducted by the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce found that earning a higher degree doesn’t necessarily mean earning significantly more throughout one’s career. Looking at what students earned within their lifetimes, the researchers found that those holding a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $2.27 million, while those holding a master’s degree earned $2.67 million, doctoral graduates earned $3.25 million, and professional degree holders earned $3.65 million throughout their lifetimes.
The type of degree, however, does significantly impact lifetime earnings. Those who majored in business management, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics earn more than those working in service industries, like education, sales, and community service. If you are interested in college but even more so a specific career following it you can find a specialized college. For example, those wanting to study agriculture should go to an A&M school that has a longstanding track record in that industry or if you are interested in development then deciding between one of several construction management schools can get you working on your interested day one of class. The overall conclusion of the study indicates that a 4-year college ensures a more promising future with the highest earnings to education ratio.
Jamie Merisotis, president, and CEO of Lumina Foundation says the importance of earning a college degree is becoming more and more necessary. His nonprofit organization’s sole purpose is to boost the number of Americans earning college graduates, so he speaks from experience. Mr. Merisotis says there’s a significant payoff to going to college and the benefits just keep growing.
How Can You Pay For College?
For students who perform well in high school, either with academics or in sports, many colleges will offer scholarships to attract high performers. For other students with less than ideal performance or adults hoping to go back to school to train for a new career, scholarships may be out, but there are still plenty of options that will help potential students pay for their educations.
One option is applying for grants. Much like scholarships in that they don’t have to be repaid, grants are offered by schools, states, and through federal government programs. Typically, getting approved for a grant depends on your financial need, which is determined by the information you supply on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. Once approved, you will receive notification from the school with which you registered.
Another option may be submitting an appeal to the school, asking them to obtain more financial aid on your behalf. A good appeal letter should outline why you’re a good fit for that school and may also explain what financial circumstances have affected your situation, such as unexpected medical bills or a loss of employment.
A third option for paying for tuition and books may be work-study jobs. Again, the FAFSA form determines your eligibility and, if approved, you can work a job on or near the college campus. You will earn hourly wages, but the student isn’t allowed to earn more than the awarded amount for that year. Notification, including the amounts of the award, will be included in a letter mailed to you by the school.
Finally, there are private scholarships and loans for which you may qualify. Many companies, non-profit organizations, and social groups offer scholarships to qualifying students. An online search can return a number of scholarship programs available to interested persons eager to return to school.
If all else fails, student loans can be considered your last resort. In most cases, loans are used to cover 20% of educational costs and families and individuals seek out government loans first. The federal government offers loans with more favorable terms than those offered by private financial institutions. Most government loans are approved, especially for first-year students. Subsidized loans may be approved for those with great financial need, meaning interest won’t begin accruing until after the student graduates.