Amidst skyrocketing college costs, two-year institutions offer a bargain to those looking for higher education at affordable rates.
According to Bloomberg, college tuition has risen 1,120 percent the past 30 years – to put that into perspective, the cost of health care has risen 601 percent in the same time period. In 2013, 70 percent of college graduates will have student debt averaging $35,200, and total student debt is roughly $1.1 trillion dollars, more than total credit card debt owed in the United States.
But even with skyrocketing costs and the apparent inevitability of taking on debt, high school graduates are still encouraged to attain higher education, if for no other reason than there is a hefty monetary incentive to obtain college experience, with those without college experience handedly out earning those who only hold a high school diploma.
And if you want the best bang for you buck, in-state public two-year schools offer a great way to expand your education and skills without being so fiscally daunting. According to the Christian Science Monitor, in 2012 the average cost of attendance for a year at in-state two-year institution was $3,131 dollars in tuition and fees. In 2012 a year at an in-state public four-year institution averaged $8,655.
And just because they are cheap doesn’t mean they only give you cheap benefits. A recent study looking at two-year college grads and four-year grad by CollegeMeasures has found that those who graduate with technical degrees and certifications often achieve higher first year earnings than those who graduate from a four year institution with a non-technical degree. In some states, “The median first-year wages of graduates from some certificate programs are above $70,000, or $30,000,” more than first year earnings of graduates with academic bachelors degrees.
NerdWallet's “Jobs in Demand” study also predicts a 35 percent increase in jobs requiring two-year degrees by 2020. Getting a degree and knowing there's going to be a market out there for you is always comforting.
And even if a technical degree isn’t for you, attending a two-year institution for the first two years of college is still a solid choice, allowing you to get done with your generals and earn an associates degree at less than half the cost of a four-year school. And assuming you did well with your grades and went to a properly accredited institution you can transfer to a four-year institution to finish off an undergraduate degree.
Of course, two-year institutions and degrees aren’t the answer to everything. It’s up to individual to make the most of their experience and choose a path with good career opportunities, and for those who want to make more money over the course of their working life, a four-year degree is usually still the way to go (unless you’re in the 28 percent of two-year degree holders who will buck that trend).
But if getting into a good paying field for an affordable price is what you are looking for, consider going two-year instead of four, even if it's just to get started.
This article was paid for and produced by LDS Business College.