Higher Education Costs and Benefits

Any way you calculate it, higher education is expensive. Even two-year degrees and professional certificates can cost thousands of dollars. Some people avoid the prospect of attending any level of college because they do not want to incur student loan debt. But, when you compare the earning potential of a college graduate with the earning potential of a high school graduate, the numbers are very telling.

College graduates have higher earning potentials than people without college degrees. It is as simple as that. This, however, is an overview – – not a rule. There are many high school graduates that earn extremely high salaries! In general, a majority of college graduates earn higher salaries than the average high school graduate. It can be difficult to advance a career into a high paying position without an education credential.

Following are some of the benefits of a higher education:

Education Equals More Knowledge in a Particular Field. Some professions require certain degrees. For example, it is impossible to become a registered nurse without graduating from an accredited nursing program. It is also unrealistic to think that a teaching job can be obtained in a public school without a teaching certificate. But, some careers do not necessarily require a formal education. For example, it is possible to become a legal secretary without a earning a degree or a certificate. But, it is easier to find jobs after a formal education has been earned. In a competitive job market, employers are more likely to hire people that have achieved a certain level of education before those that do not have a college degree.

Master’s Degrees and Doctoral Degrees Provide Even Higher Salaries. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has a published chart that lists the average salaries for people who have varying levels of formal education. Their data consists of information for people that are over the age of 25 and work full-time. The numbers show the drastic differences between the median salary levels for those who have college degrees and those who do not.  The chart states the following:

Median Weekly Earnings in 2010

Professional Degree: $1,665

Doctoral Degree: $1,551

Master’s Degree: $1,263

Bachelor’s Degree: $1,053

Associate’s Degree: $768

Some College, No Degree: $719

High School Diploma: $638

Less Than High School Diploma: $451

Higher Education Means Lower Poverty Levels for an Entire Country. Nations that have the lowest rates of unemployment and the fewest number of people dependent on their government for food and other basic supplies are those that have the most educated population. Typically, people with a higher education are able to obtain higher paying jobs. If they cannot find a paying job, most educated individuals are able to either become self-employed or work on a freelance basis while looking for gainful employment.

When people earn money, a few things automatically happen:

  • They pay income tax.

  • They spend more money.

  • They do not collect unemployment insurance.

  • They do not need the Welfare system.

Therefore, educated individuals are able to be more self-sufficient than people that do not have a higher degree. All of society benefits when higher education is chosen.

Higher Education Does Not Mean The Most Expensive School Must be Selected. The term “higher education” does not mean that the highest priced school must be attended. In fact, an equal education can be obtained from either a public school or a private school. Most students that are concerned by the cost of a college education choose to attend schools that are the least expensive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with attending a public institution. For many professions, a degree is a degree and it does not matter what specific school was attended – as long as it is accredited by the correct accreditation agency.  Also read, "Higher Education for Career Advancement" to find out how a degree can help you gain an edge when competing for a job promotion.

Student Loans Can be Paid Faster with an Earned Degree. If you must use student loans to pay for your education, you will likely graduate with a diploma and a whole lot of debt. The debt will be much easier to repay if the degree was obtained with a specific goal in mind. For example, if you know that you want to become a nurse, obtaining student loans so you can attend an accredited nursing program makes sense. Knowing how much you will eventually earn as a nurse before attending school will help you create a repayment budget.

The positives of earning a college degree are huge. In fact, there are very few negatives associated with a higher education. Education is power. Even if your college degree is not focused on your desired profession, you still gain knowledge and grow intellectually and socially while attending classes and studying. The cost of a higher education can be pricey, but the potential and obvious benefits greatly outweigh the cost of tuition.

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Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.