Less Loans than You Might Think: Why Going to College is Still Worth it-If You Get a Degree

High tuition costs can be very discouraging for families of limited income–and taking on huge amounts of debt doesn’t sound like a great solution for parents or students.

Recently, there have been many articles saying that college is overrated, expensive and ultimately not worth your time and money. People paying off student loans years after graduating proclaim that they regret going to college and warn students to avoid the debt that comes with college by not attending altogether.

However, a commentary in the Los Angeles Times revealed that graduating from college within six years is the key to minimizing student debt and benefiting from the employment opportunities that come with a degree.

Although college debt seems inevitable for most college-going students, the average student debt is lower than you might think, and the long-term benefits more significant. As the commentary states:

“The truth is that 36% of public four-year university graduates complete their degrees without any debt, the average debt among borrowers is $25,500, and less than 2% graduate with more than $60,000 in debt. Never mind that a bachelor’s degree adds up to $1 million to a worker’s lifetime earnings. Even some college, particularly a two-year degree, adds to lifetime earnings.”

The students that typically have the most trouble paying back loans are those who attend college but never actually graduate. Student borrowers who hold a bachelor’s degree make up only 1.1 percent of all student loan defaults.

Completing a degree significantly increases job opportunities, and the jobless rate for bachelor’s degree holders is typically half that of workers who completed only some college. Ultimately,

“Reducing time enrolled before graduation and increasing degree completion helps limit student debt, reduce loan defaults and bolster students’ employment prospects…”

Raising college graduation rates can help alleviate some of the challenges that currently exist in higher education, and there are many ways to go about it.

“Simply establishing the expectation that full-time students enroll in at least 15 credits a semester, or the equivalent in other term formats, has been shown to increase degree completion”

Furthermore, giving students an advising session at the beginning of their senior year and allowing them to take courses year-round (including during the summer) increases their chances of graduating.

Nearly 500 public universities nationwide have made commitments to increase graduation rates, and it’s time that we demand the same from all of our colleges. High schools can also help prepare students for college completion by emphasizing the financial benefits of an on-time graduation and encouraging them to ask questions about credits, graduation timelines and loans wherever they choose to enroll.

“The ultimate measure of our success is not just the number of students we help attend college, but the number we help graduate.”

What do you think?

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Brenda Benitez

Brenda Benitez

Brenda Benitez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and grew up in Chicago, IL with her 4 brothers and sisters. She recently graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where she studied Public Policy with a concentration in Psychology. She is passionate about education and immigration reform. Thanks to scholarships for both high school and college, Brenda had the opportunity to attend high performing private schools, and her interest in education is born of the realization that too few low-income students have access to this type of education. Furthermore, her own family’s struggle with the immigration system inspired her to be active in the immigration reform movement since a young age. Brenda is currently an intern at Education Post.

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