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Amid the intersection of mounting debt and rising college costs comes an honest question: Is college worth it?
The nation’s student loan debt levels were around $1.4 trillion in 2020, making it the second-biggest debt pool behind mortgages. That figure is ahead of auto loans, credit cards, and other personal loans. After adjusting for inflation, the average cost of a college education more than doubled between 1985 and 2019, while median household income only rose by28%.
The data points to a larger issue for high school graduates pondering their future. Even if college is worth it, do graduates want to carry tens of thousands of dollars in student debt for the next 10, 20, or 30 years?
Today’s high school seniors are wrestling with significant questions that have no easy answers, and this may explain why the gig economy has become popular. Freelancers often don’t have to prove their education to get hired. Rather, they can showcase their skill. Talent, in some cases, is taking workers further than a diploma could have.
But despite a seismic shift in the way college is viewed, nearly 70% of recent high school graduates enroll in college. While there are widespread doubts about the benefit of a college diploma, recent data from the Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households indicates that the average college graduate believes that the benefits of a degree far exceed the costs.