Graduation season is supposed to be a joyful time, but many graduates (and parents) of the class of 2013 find themselves staring down a fact that will surely put a damper on things: The average amount of student-loan debt for a 2013 graduate is about $30,000, an uncomfortable burden to shoulder at the outset of one’s career.
Almost as distressing is the phenomenon that many graduates are working in low-skill jobs despite having a college degree. A 2010 grad in political science described to The Wall Street Journal his employment at a call center: “There are people with master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees, and even people with law degrees, applying to work for $10 an hour.”
The cost of college has risen more than 1,100 percent since 1978. Driving this has been the ability of elite colleges to raise tuition higher and higher, so that they might be perceived as prestigious by consumers who can pay the full price. Other colleges have followed this model, but the clients (students) are continually going into debt to pay for a quality of education that seems elite but actually isn’t. A never-ending stream of federal and private student loans feeds the system, acting as a river of revenue for colleges who want to build shiny new dorms and other amenities to attract students.
In light of the facts, it’s appropriate to ask the question: “Is college worth it?”