When Will My College Degree Pay Off?

You planned for college. You and your family saved for college. Maybe now you're close to graduating from college. So what is that college degree really worth, and when will you truly start to see the benefits of your education?

According to a recent study published by The College Board, you'll begin to truly reap the rewards of a bachelors degree around age 34.

“Although obtaining a college degree can mean forgone wages during a time when they are also paying tuition, by age 34 the average bachelor’s degree recipient will have recouped those costs,” explains Jennifer Ma, senior policy research scientist at the College Board and a coauthor of the report. “A college education is an investment that pays dividends over the course of a lifetime — even for students who accumulate some debt to obtain a degree.”

While age 34 may seem like a long time to wait, consider that college grads also earn considerably more than individuals with only a high school diploma – about 67% more, says The College Board. In addition, the unemployment rate for individuals age 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree is consistently about half of the unemployment rate for high school graduates. That means you will not only recoup the costs of college and time "lost" in the working world while you attend school, but your degree will continue to help you earn more money over the course of your career.

Paying for Your Education

If you're just now in the college planning stages as a high school student, you and your parents may be worried about taking on debt to pay for college. First, you'll want to look for free money for college in the form of scholarships and grants. Next is what we consider "cheap" money from federal loans. Finally, if you still need help footing your tuition bill, look for private education loans from a trusted lender like your credit union.

Going to college this fall and unsure how to decipher your financial aid award letters? Be sure to sign up for our upcoming FREE webinar explaining all you need to know about award letters. 

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