Is College Worth The Money And Debt?


Is college worth the money and debt?  The cost of college has increased by 11x since 1980 while inflation overall has increased by 3x.  Diluting education with for-profits. and saddling millions with debt.

Is a college degree worth it?  Since the debt bubble burst spectacularly in 2007 many more prospective students are questioning the worth of a college degree.  For so many decades it was simply taken at face value that getting a college degree, any college degree would be worth it.  Slowly this perception has morphed when annual tuition is running at $20,000 or more at for-profit institutions and $50,000 for private institutions.  More to the point, most of the recent educational growth has been financed with large wallet crushing student loans.  This financing of the college dream is turning out story after gut-wrenching story of college education nightmares.  When a college education becomes this expensive it is important that potential students become savvy consumers.  The financial sector certainly isn’t going to offer any advice on navigating the minefield of higher education since they largely have their greedy hands on this sector of the economy as well.


The soaring cost of college

In hindsight everyone seems to now agree that the housing bubble was rather obvious to spot since it far outstripped every measure of inflation and even rose while incomes fell.  You would think this lesson would be learned but the cost of a college education is much deeper into bubble territory even beyond the metrics of the housing market at its peak:

college tuition

Source:  Cluster Stock

While housing at the peak rose by a factor of 4 (400 on the chart) college tuition has soared by a factor of 10 (it hasn’t stopped going up so it is now likely up in the 11x or 12x range).  It is a downright startling figure especially when the incomes of recent college graduates has gone in the complete opposite  direction:


Source:  BusinessWeek

Since 2000 real earnings for college graduates has fallen while tuition costs continue to soar and put students into further student loan debt.  I was hearing a few stories about states with record applicants to public universities yet with state budgets hurting, these schools are unable to meet the demand.  So students are left with the option of $50,000 a year for private institutions or going to for-profits that are a step above paper mills.  For this reason we have seen a giant increase in for-profit enrollments:

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