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What's the ROI of Higher Education?

John Coogan

The demand for college-educated workers is on the rise. In our competitive job market, oftentimes a high school diploma is no longer sufficient, and a college education is more valuable than ever before. The earnings disparity between workers with a four-year degree or more compared to those without is highest among people under 35, according to Pew Research Center. Furthermore, college graduates are more likely to be employed and often earn more, the Pew Research Center reports. Attaining higher education can be imperative to long-term success.

Degrees Necessary for a Demanding Job Market

The playing field is not even in today’s workforce. Income inequality between individuals with college degrees and their less-educated peers is becoming greater.

In today’s economy, a college degree is becoming more of a necessity than an option. The White House reports that within the next few years, job opportunities for college-educated workers will be greater than opportunities for individuals with only a high school education. A study by Georgetown University found that in the next six years, 65% of all jobs in the U.S. will require some kind of post-secondary education. The minimum education for 35% of job openings will be a bachelor’s degree. Another 30% of jobs will require some college courses or an associate’s degree.

Benefits of a College Degree

In many cases, workers with a higher education have higher salaries than individuals who only have a high school diploma. Having a bachelor’s degree can lead to earning 84% more than peers with less education, Georgetown University reports.

Not going to college has become more costly over time than the tuition and fees associated with attending. According to the recent Pew Research Center study, college graduates make $17,500 more per year than workers without a post-secondary education do.

Find Resources to Overcome Roadblocks

The slow economic recovery over the past few years has had an impact on the financial assistance college students receive from their parents. On average, parents’ contributions have decreased by 35% since 2010, from $8,752 to $5,727, according to Sallie Mae.

However, high tuition costs and lack of financial support don’t have to hinder anyone from receiving the necessary college funding to invest in their future. Countless scholarships and grants are available for students willing to research and apply.

We learned about Kelly McHugh’s story when she applied for a scholarship through our organization. When her father, Col. John M. McHugh, was killed during finals week of her freshman year at Kansas State University, she didn’t know how she was going to cover bills and tuition on her own. She received a scholarship, which allowed her to continue with her studies.

Gain Real-World Experience

Freedom from the financial burden of tuition and fees allowed Kelly to jumpstart her career while she was still in school. Kelly was able to travel two hours to Kansas City once or twice a week to work with a Major League Soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, as a journalism intern. She also worked with local media outlets to promote K-State sporting events. Since graduation last spring, Kelly began working as a writer with Kansas State University’s Athletics department.

As college becomes a requirement in our society, students should take advantage of valuable resources to fund an education and offer the opportunity to compete in our demanding workforce.

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