Stephen F. Austin State University’s (SFASU) tuition in 2000 was about $2,039 per year; this is not including room and board. Since then, the tuition has increased at a rate of about 4-6 percent per year bringing it to its current rate of $5,756. Inflation and GDP have been growing at about 2 percent so this means that tuition is growing much faster than the standard living. Now, SFA is considered an affordable school with low tuition and low cost of attending. Many major universities have been increasing tuition at a much higher rate and private universities are just out of this world, for example, tuition and fees for Columbia University for 2014 were hovering around $52,000 per year. Also, this is the first time that student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt and it is currently over $1.2 trillion. On average, graduates leave college with over $30,000 in student loans that they owe, up from $18,000 average that students left college just 10 years ago.
Now, the million dollar question that everyone asks themselves, is it worth it to attend college? Well it depends; do you want to major in liberal arts or do you want a major in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields? Many individuals believe that in order to get a good job you need a good education from a good school, now in certain situations that may be correct but today the economy is very competitive. Let’s look at a Child and Family Development major as an example; in order to have a decent job you’re going to need more than just your bachelor’s degree, you’re looking at having your master’s AND experience in the job field that you are trying to pursue. Even with all that under your belt, it still may not pay as high as high demand jobs like a IT Specialist or a statistician. Most people who choose to go that route is because they have a passion for that field and to them it doesn’t matter on how much they’re getting paid. Logic and reasoning would tell us that if you’re not going to make enough money to cover your school debt, you should consider another career. This isn’t anything against the Child and Family Development degree or any other degree; it’s just a simple example that illustrates that some people don’t do it for the money but rather a passion. People usually say, choose something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life, now that’s a true statement but we also have to be realistic. Bills are like clockwork, they don’t stop so it’s imperative you find a career that you enjoy and love but also make money out of it.
So, is it worth it? Well, the answer isn’t that easy to answer. One of the first things you need to do is your research, look at the job market and careers you want to do and see if the numbers are where you want them to be. When picking a school, look for the best BANG for your buck but still look for one that has a good program that you’re interested in, don’t go to a school just because of the name. Apply for grants, scholarships and financial aid; there is a surplus of money out there it just needs you to look for it. Here’s some advice, do whatever you can to avoid payday loans, title loans or any other quick cash method because there is no such thing as a free meal, there’s always a catch. Student loans should be used at a minimal and used only for what they are intended for because once those 6 months after graduation are up, you’re going to have to start paying them back, job or no job.
Here is another article from the Economist that talks more about the rising prices of higher education: