Is a College Degree Worth the Debt in 2024?

New survey findings have tried to answer an age-old question – is college worth it?

Degree Dilemma

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Elnur

It’s a question that many people have asked over the years, and one that’s still relevant – especially in today’s economy – is a college degree worth it? 

Debunking College Myths

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Miha Creative

Well, Pew Research has conducted a survey into the average American’s opinion on the subject, and it’s revealed some surprising insights.

What the Survey Says

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

While a degree used to be the key to financial freedom, a lot has changed in the last decade. Young adults aged 25 to 34 without a bachelor’s degree have actually seen their wages go up. 

Non-Degree Workers on the Rise

Image Credit: Shutterstock / bbernard

After years of declining wages, these young workers are now earning more, and building wealth, and fewer are living in poverty. Wages for those with degrees have also increased at roughly the same rate, so the gap in earnings between the two hasn’t narrowed.

Degrees of Doubt

Image Credit: Shutterstock / voronaman

But when it comes to the importance of a college degree, opinions are skewed. Only one in four U.S. adults say a four-year degree is super important for landing a good-paying job. Meanwhile, 40% believe it’s not that crucial or even not important at all. Almost half of the people surveyed think a college degree is less important now than it was 20 years ago.

Cost vs. Value

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Damir Khabirov

The cost is also a big sticking point for many. Just 22% of people think a college degree is worth the price tag if it means taking out loans. 47% say a degree is only worth it if you don’t have to borrow money, while 29% say college isn’t worth it at all.

Political Degrees

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Inside Creative House

Pew Research has found a link that suggests political views might be coloring how people view higher education. They found that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to shrug off the need for a college degree.

How Views Shape Opinions

Image Credit: Shutterstock / PanuShot

About half of Republicans say a degree isn’t essential for a well-paying job, compared to 30% of Democrats. 57% of Republicans believe a degree is less important now than it was 20 years ago, while only 43% of Democrats agree.

The Education Equation

Image Credit: Shutterstock / nelen

Pew also discovered that a person’s level of education plays a big role in their perspective. College graduates, especially those with advanced degrees, tend to see more value in their education. But even among grads, less than a third think it’s worth the cost if loans are involved.

Non-Degree Nation

Image Credit: Shutterstock / UfaBizPhoto

Findings from the survey show that the non-graduates are making a comeback. Young men without a college degree are seeing better days. 

Male Workers Earnings On The Up

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

Their participation in the labor force has stabilized after years of decline, and more of them are landing full-time jobs. Their average earnings are on the rise, and poverty rates are dropping significantly.

Female Workforce On The Rise

Image Credit: Shutterstock / iona didishvili

Young women without degrees are also on an upward trend. More are joining the workforce, their earnings are climbing, and fewer are living in poverty. It’s a clear sign that you don’t necessarily need a degree to do well financially.

Degree Dollars

Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Tero Vesalainen

While Pew Research has found that most Americans are concerned about the cost of college, findings from the Strada Education Foundation (SEF) might work in their favor. 

Debt Decisions

Image Credit: Shutterstock / ShutterstockProfessional

They found that the cost of college – which on average is around $114,000 for three years, including all resources etc – can be worth it provided a graduate earns $50,000 a year on average, over a ten year period.

Loan vs. No Loan Dilemma

Image Credit: Shutterstock / iona didishvili

If a graduate can earn that, or make $500,000 in the ten years following college, then financially they will have made a positive return on their investment and should be able to pay off their loans.

The Power of Earnings

Image Credit: Pexels / Tima Miroshnichenko

It costs more in certain states – like New York or California – but these states also pay higher wages on average, so the cost actually balances out. According to the SEF, “As long as you’re above that $50,000, even in the most expensive states, you’ll still have that positive return on investment.”

Community College Conundrum

Image Credit: Shutterstock / EF Stock

The SEF also found that, while community college is significantly cheaper, it doesn’t pay the same returns. 

A Degree in Demand

Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Artie Medvedev

According to their results, the earnings after ten years are often not high enough to justify the costs – although that partly depends on the degree path you take.

Remote No More: 19 Companies Returning to the Office

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

As the pandemic wanes, companies are recalling remote workers back to the office, sparking debates on fairness, costs, and convenience. However, there are also notable productivity, coworking, and mental health benefits to consider. Feeling the effects of these changes? Remote No More: 19 Companies Returning to the Office

8 Costco Must Buys and 8 to Leave Behind

Image Credit: Pexels / Gustavo Fring

Ever wandered Costco’s aisles, questioning if that giant jar of pickles is a real bargain? Or debated buying tires where you get your rotisserie chicken? Welcome to the definitive guide to Costco shopping—a journey to save money, prevent regrets, and offer quirky insights into bulk buying. 8 Costco Must Buys and 8 to Leave Behind

23 Reasons Texas Is the Next Big Thing

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sean Pavone

Texas is becoming a beacon of opportunity, blending cultural heritage with economic growth. From its landscapes to its industries, the Lone Star State offers a dynamic lifestyle. Here are 23 reasons why Texas stands out, attracting entrepreneurs, artists, tech professionals, and families seeking new beginnings. 23 Reasons Texas Is the Next Big Thing

15 Top Sites to Sell Your Unwanted Goods Besides Craigslist

Image Credit: Shutterstock / GaudiLab

Selling your unwanted items can declutter your space and boost your income. While Craigslist is popular, there are many alternatives with unique features and wider audiences. Explore these 15 Craigslist alternatives for selling everything from furniture to electronics, finding the perfect platform to turn clutter into cash. 15 Top Sites to Sell Your Unwanted Goods Besides Craigslist

Work from Anywhere: 19 Companies Still Supporting Remote Work

Image Credit: Shutterstock / insta_photos

Tired of commuting and craving work flexibility? You’re not alone. Many companies now offer remote work, benefiting both employees and employers. Ever wondered how this shift could enhance your work-life balance? Work from Anywhere: 19 Companies Still Supporting Remote Work

The postIs a College Degree Worth the Debt in 2024? first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / – Yuri A.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

+ posts

Leave a Comment