Thursday, September 6, 2012
Is College Worth It?
Ever since I went back and decided to get a Master's in Education, I have struggled with accepting the debt I had to take on in hopes of making more over the long run.
In Georgia, teachers make roughly $4,000 more with a Master's than with a Bachelor's. One would think over the span of a career of 30 years, a teacher could expect to make $120,000 more with Master's. However, considering the rising cost of tuition to go to not only an undergraduate program, but also a graduate program, it makes one think. Especially, since about 54% of recent college graduates are underemployed or unemployed. Some of them take jobs that pay $25,000 a year and with a burden of student debt upwards of $100,000, college is setting them up for a life default and student loan payments instead of mortgage payments. My wife and I are extremely lucky to have the jobs and income we do at only 25, but we feel sorry for our friends that struggle to breath financially because of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Luckily, teaching at an underprivileged school in an area of high need such as math and science, can have $17,500 of their student loans forgiven as long as they teach for 5 years at that school. You better believe I am only 2 years from this and I will apply for that forgiveness.
Back to my thoughts, I paid exactly $31,000 to get my graduate degree. If I deduct the $31,000 from the $120,000 I can expect to make over my career, I will only net roughly $89,000 over my career, not including accrued interest from the loans, which most run at 6.8%. I am not sure if netting $89,000 is worth delaying having kids with my wife for 5 years until we are completely debt free and have $10,000 in a college savings account for our first child that we can afford to continue to contribute to until they are 18. Having children is our dream. We look forward to those years of our lives, but we need to be able to take care of them appropriately. In the state we are in, we cannot afford to do that because we pay almost 60% of our take home pay to debt!
So, back to the question, is college worth it? I am not sure. Of course I wanted to go to college. I wish someone would have told me what life would be like with $90,000 in debt by the time I am 23. I might have second-guessed myself. Or, I would have gone to a school that accepted the HOPE scholarship in Georgia and not a private school in Tennessee that my family said they could pay for, but obviously could not.
I do not regret going to a private college. I had a wonderful liberal arts education that taught me a tremendous amount of information that I now use everyday in my teaching. I met some incredible people and developed lifelong relationships with each of them. I would never trade the memories and experiences I created in college, not even for the $90,000 back. College was without a doubt the best 4 years of my life. However, it set me up for living about 8 years in debt (hopefully less, but realistically 8), unable to travel or have children. I feel like I am going in circles with this and of course there is no true answer and only opinions.
I would love to read some comments on other people's thoughts on this.