Higher education is not cheap and, like everything else, college costs are rising year on year and it is becoming increasingly difficult for many students to find the money needed to pay both their college tuition fees and room and board each year.
In the past year the average total cost of college education has increased by about 6% and average costs now vary widely from under $3,000 a year to in excess of $30,000 a year depending on where you are studying (in or out of state) and whether you are following a full-time or part-time two-year or four-year course at a public university or at a private college.
This picture is not however as frightening as it looks when you examine the breakdown of the actual costs which students are faced with and the fees which they are paying.
For example, only about 9% of students are paying more than $30,000 and about 56% of students are paying tuition and fees of less than $9,000. Indeed about a third of all students are paying less than $6,000.
These figures do not of course take into account financial aid which is currently being paid to students and their families and which now totals more than $132 billion a year.
Today about two-thirds of all undergraduate students are receiving grant aid and, together with tax benefits, this averages about $2,000 per year for students on two-year courses at public universities to over $9,000 a year for students enrolled on four-year courses at private colleges.
Now this may still sound expensive even after you take into account any grants and scholarships you can get and Federal aid, while welcome, is limited. Meeting these costs is no easy matter and for the vast majority of students getting a college degree means taking on a raft of Federal and private loans which they can be saddled with for many years. So, is it worth it?
Well, think of it this way. It is currently estimated that individuals with a bachelor’s degree can earn about 60% more than their contemporaries with only a high school diploma. This is no small difference and over a normal working lifetime represents well over three quarters of a million dollars! Yes, you may have to make some sacrifices to attend college but this is one investment which will be more than adequately repaid in the long term.
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