Is a college degree a good return on investment?

November 8, 2022


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As college prices continue to skyrocket, more people are questioning the value of these degrees. Here is how much a degree costs, how much you get back from it, and some alternatives to college.

How much does a college degree cost?

College degree costs vary significantly based on school type and residency status. The most expensive, private schools, can cost almost $40,000. That cost lowers to $22,953 for public, out-of-state schools and $10,423 for public in-state schools. This fee is only tuition. Other costs should be accounted for, like housing, meal plans, transportation, and books.

Do you make this money back?

The return on investment of a college education is contentious. One estimate says that the lifetime return on investment of a bachelor’s degree is 287.7%; however, graduates don’t see any returns on their investment until 15 years after graduation. In the first ten years, the return on investment is -41.1%. For people who earn degrees in information technology, entry-level jobs are often around $50,000. Paying back loans on this salary is very challenging after considering living expenses.

READ MORE: Loan forgiveness is not as easy as it seems

Elite schools like the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard offer some of the highest rates of investment. Both of these are private universities, costing significantly more to attend. This data also doesn’t account for the increasing cost of universities and stagnation in wage increases. In 4 years, these statistics may be much different.

Another element to consider is the return on investment by industry. The tech industry is often disappointed by the lack of preparedness from college graduates. By the time many students graduates, the technology they learn has evolved, and their education leaves them underprepared.

What are my alternatives?

The good news is that there are great alternatives to traditional education paths. An apprenticeship, for example, doesn’t require a monetary investment. Apprenticeships are paid programs where you get your education part-time and work for an employer providing that education part-time. The only investment students are making is time!

Apprenticeships also offer you guaranteed job experience. This allows the apprentice to move from entry-level to experienced quicker and earn higher salaries. Often, the apprentices work with well-known companies and receive references that serve them well in the future.

If you are interested in a technology apprenticeship program, visit

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