By Kyle Olson
At a recent campaign trail stop to the University of Colorado, President Barack Obama stated that college is the best investment you can make.
Many Americans believe that statement to be true, even in an economy where recent college grads have a tough time finding sustainable careers and job prospects become something of a tough find.
However, there are factors in which determining what a college degree will mean to you or your family whether you are deciding on where to go and what to do after high school or planning on returning to college to obtain a degree.
According to The Wall Street Journal, students and families lack sufficient data to determine the long-term viability and profitability of a college degree over a life span.
Not knowing what college will cost you or how it will benefit you in the span of your lifetime can have dire consequences in the form of student debt if you do decide to pursue a degree in higher education.
There are distinct advantages to those who obtain a college degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, college brought a higher weekly pay of $1,053 versus the $638 weekly amount to those who only obtained a high school diploma in 2011.
Also, last year’s unemployment rate for college graduates was 4.9% as opposed to the 9.4% unemployment rate for high school graduates without a college degree.
The non-for-profit organization The College Board, calculated that a typical student who enters a four-year college at age 18 and borrows for the entirety of his collegiate career, earns enough by age 33 to make up for his college costs.
Although this may look enticing to high school juniors and seniors applying for college, the data assumes that every student goes to a public college and also doesn’t account for dropouts and extra years needed to obtain degrees.
The schools with the best returns on investment often focus on majors concerning engineering, computer science, economics, and natural-science programs.
Colleges with the worst return on investment tend to focus on nursing, criminal justice, education, and sociology.
The Nuts And Bolts of College Finances
Recently, outstanding student loans surpassed credit card debt as the nation’s largest debt problem amongst Americans.
A staggering issue compounded by the fact that, unlike credit card debt, student loan debt is not typically forgiving through filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In an economy where many parents and students alike have faced tough financial situations such as bankruptcy and foreclosure, student loan borrow is on the rise. Applications for federal assistance has rose 59 percent since 2006, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Many schools that offer financial aid have funds set aside for the appeal processes that arise from financial aid cases being awarded. Many students find themselves “under covered” and perform appeals on the amount they get awarded.
Experts point to the appeal process as a viable way to potentially increase your financial aid coverage, just as long as circumstances call for it (i.e. your parent’s business recently filed for bankruptcy or you lost your home to foreclosure). The more information the college has on the finances of the student and their family, the better knowledge they have to make the best possible offer.
As difficult as it sounds to obtain a desirable amount of financial aid to assist you in your collegiate career, many believe it is worth the hassle. Ask yourself, is college right for me? Do your homework on financial aid and you’ll be better prepared to take college by the horns and make a lifelong investment that will payoff big in the end.