Is higher ed worth the high price

There is no reasonable argument against higher education. You just want to make sure it pays.

Whether in the form of securing a two-year skilled trade, four-year college degree or post-graduate credentials, the investment of time and money appears invaluable on the surface.

Except for the extremely few dropouts that make it as natural geniuses of capitalism, unusually talented athletes or heirs to fortunes gained from their parents’ hard work, education is the starting point where individual marketability is measured.

For most people, the expense of college is also where a lifetime of debt – one’s own, one’s children or both – begins.

With the continually increasing costs of college and tightening of business spending, including wages, scholars might wonder if the expense justifies what they can expect to earn once a sheepskin is in hand.

According to national samplings, low-end, in-state tuition and expenses at public colleges during 2011-2012 were generally $24,000. Yes, that is for one year. It is also what an average new hire with a new bachelor’s degree might expect to earn during a first year on the job in today’s market.

Those paying out-of-state tuition at the same public colleges generally spent or borrowed $4,000 more per year than their in-state counterparts. Salary opportunities, however, have not increased for them and there are no discounts for borrowing.

Tuition and associated expenses are expected to jump by $2,000 a year during the next four years. By the time our low-cost example student graduates, the total bill could easily be in excess of $108,000. Most homes in that price range are financed with a 30-year mortgage.

College tuition alone is rising between 2 and 6 percent per year at institutions across the country. Americans owe more than $870 billion in student loans, with people over the age of 60 accounting for 5 percent of that bill.

President Obama has been promoting new student loan packages, suggesting that debt leads to opportunity. Education experts and industrial leaders contend the jobs are present, but being found in a more competitive market for new hires.

In turn, the question for many graduates will be, if you are unable to get a good paying job, how easy will it be to pay off the expense of education?

Americans have reached the point of asking if the benefits of learning justify the costs involved. The value of higher education must be accompanied with reasonable financial expectations. Otherwise, the lessons are only expensive with no return on investment.