Many people believe that in order to get a well-paying job, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. While a degree is still necessary for many professions, engineers, for example, it’s possible to get a great job without a four-year degree.
There are a lot of benefits to a college education, but it’s not for everyone and it doesn’t guarantee a “good” job anymore. If you’re considering skipping college for trade or vocational school, you’re not alone. Many students realize that with trade school, they can enter the workforce faster and begin earning money instead of sinking further into student loan debt.
But what do the numbers look like? We found six shocking stats about four-year degrees that will make you rethink enrolling at your local university.
Six Stats That Will Make You Reconsider a Four-Year Degree
From student loan debt to the soaring price of tuition, here are a few things you should know about getting an undergraduate degree.
A Bachelor’s Degree Costs More Than a New Corvette
The price of a four-year degree varies wildly but for in-state students studying at a public university, the average cost of a bachelor’s degree is around $80,000. (A 2019 Corvette Grand Sport starts at $65,900.) The price skyrockets if you are an out-of-state student and/or you choose to study at a private university.
$80,000 includes room and board and meal plans, but even without those, the total cost is in the tens of thousands of dollars. While it’s true that most students receive some form of financial aid and won’t pay that $80,000 out of pocket, the vast majority do have to take out student loans to finance their education. In fact…
The Class of 2016 Owed an Average of $28,466 in Student Loan Debt
Yep, undergraduate students that completed their degree in 2016 and had to borrow student loans graduated with an average of nearly $30,000 of debt. That figure rises each year and as of March 2018, 44.5 million student loan borrowers in the U.S. owe a collective $1.5 trillion.
One-Third of Students Won’t Graduate
The dropout rate for bachelor’s degree-seeking students at 4-year college is around 33%. Most students have trouble balancing work, school, and life while 24% simply drop down to part-time status, one-third drop out entirely.
Only 19% of Students Complete Their Bachelor’s in 4 Years
Although it’s a four-year degree, most students take longer to graduate due to the aforementioned life and work duties. Dropping down to part-time can help balance those duties but it extends the amount of time in college by a year or two, often delaying entry to a career.
Student Loans Can Take Decades to Pay Off
For federal student loans, the standard repayment plan puts borrowers on a 10-year track for repayment, which doesn’t sound so bad. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality of student loan repayment. Most borrowers take twice as long to pay their student loans off. That’s over 20 years to pay off 4-6 years of college!
The College vs Trade School Pay Gap Isn’t a Big As You Think
And that pay gap may not even exist at all. The salary of a trade job varies wildly but the median salary of entry-level trade jobs is $35,720 per year. When the average bachelor’s degree holder begins working, they only make around $11,000 more per year, putting them at a salary of about $46,700. (Of course, this depends on a lot of factors, including the degree, location, job market, etc.)
But take into account the fact that most college graduates won’t enter the workforce until the age of 22, at the earliest. Since trade school lasts anywhere from a few months to two years, those that choose vocational school enter the workforce 2-3 years before their college counterparts. That’s 2-3 years of additional income (and little to no student loan debt) for trade school graduates, which helps narrow the pay gap.
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