Many families raising children have notions of sending their kids off to university or college so they can get an education. The hope is that such an education prepares them for adult life where they can use their skills and knowledge to generate significant income over the course of their life. That money is hoped to help them raise a family, buy a home, go on vacations, save for retirement, and generally have a comfortable life.
The truth isn’t always so simple. There is actually some debate about the costs of degrees, for both students and universities.
Costs for post-secondary education continue to rise in many developed countries. This makes getting a degree harder for many students. While there are many government programs to provide assistance with financing college or university, rarely do all these benefits add up to getting students through school without having to pay a lot of money of their own.
Worse yet, some of these benefits take the form of student loans that trap students into a vicious cycle of debt that takes years, if not decades, to get out of. Whereas degrees used to be a solid pathway to higher levels of income, much of that extra income is now offset by interest rates and payments due on student loans.
Complicating matters is how the value of degrees seems to be on the decline. Whereas they were once the gateway to a better life, there are now many jobs that require them just to be an entry-level opening into the career world. Incomes, wages, and salaries have also not always grown proportionately to the economy of most nations.
Degrees still hold value for many students, but not all. In fact, a double-digit percentage of students seems to be better off not even attending, when looking at their lifetime income as adults.
For colleges and universities, the costs of operating continue to rise, which means what they charge students also has to go up. While there is interest in obtaining degrees, not everyone can do it, resulting in fewer potential applications and actual students on many campuses. This can result in serious financial strains for institutions such as these, and cutbacks just reinvigorate the cycle of how tight money is for everyone.
This article was originally published on MarilynGardnerMilton.org