The truth about schooling: Is a university degree worth it?

Originally Posted On: News4

By: Emily Pacillo

Student loans make up the second largest debt of U.S. households, following mortgages. When comparing college tuition from 20 years past, it has skyrocketed.

“The college graduate makes the same as they did in 1979, yet, college tuition has quadrupled in that period of time. It’s actually inflated four times consumer price index as well,” said Dusty Wunderlich, CEO of Bristlecone Holdings.

“Tuition has increased to offset the very significant reduction in funding by government for higher education,” said Kevin Carman, Provost at University of Nevada.

Some think that higher education has been providing a much greater supply than there is demand.

“We really started to push kids that in order to be fulfilled in life and society, you have to get a college education, and you match that with having government subsidizing student loans to really cheap credit, and this has created this problem,” said Wunderlich.

Wunderlich says that we tend to look at every degree the same from a student loan perspective, but that’s not necessarily true.

“If you see a student that goes to UC Berkeley and gets an engineering degree, that is high demand in the labor markets, they’re going to make on average about $1.1 million more than someone with a high school diploma,” said Wunderlich.

According to The Economist, a student with an arts degree from a non-specialized school could eventually end up making $200,000 less than someone with a high school diploma because of student debt.

However, university officials believe that the benefits of a college education are measured in more ways than money.

“A robust set of data suggests that not only do college graduates make more money, they’re happier, they have more successful marriages, they’re healthier, they just live better lifestyles because of the education that they have obtained,” said Carman.

The U.S. Department of Labor says that there will be 19 million graduates over the next 10 years, with only 7 million jobs that require a degree.

Forty-two percent of graduates are in jobs that require less than a four-year degree.

Wunderlich thinks that trade schooling is a great option for those who don’t necessarily know what they want to do with their lives.

“You’re starting to get a lot more advanced manufacturing, these are the areas in which you know you’re going to go make an investment, maybe a shorter time period through a trade school of two years, and there’s going to be a job available for you at the end of that,” said Wunderlich.

A trade school degree averages $33,000, while a Bachelor’s degree averages $127,000, according to The Simple Dollar. That’s a difference of $94,000 for trade students, and they’re making money for two years longer than a college student.

Carman says the University of Nevada has increasing graduation rates: 59 percent graduate in six years, and 26 percent graduate in four years.

Regardless of the path a high school graduate chooses to take, most agree it’s important to look at the big picture, not just the dollars and cents.

“It’s a mistake for a student to think about the money as they’re pursuing a degree; they need to be practical in being able to make an income, but I think that if you really enjoy what you are doing, whatever that is, you have an opportunity to make a good living doing it,” said Carman.

Wunderlich spoke at the University of Nevada about this topic. To view it, CLICK HERE.