Is College Actually Worth the Money?

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: March 25, 2024, Reading time: 6 minutes

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Conflicting opinions on college worth have never seen a wider gap. It’s no secret that getting a college degree is, for most people, an achievement that impacts an individual’s professional and financial future.

While this popular opinion persists, published arguments on why college isn’t worth it continue to make headlines, constantly disputing the greatness that post-college life promises.

Doubters point to, among other things, the ridiculously expensive college investment, inadequate academic preparedness, substandard learning culture, and dropout success rates as reasons not to go to college.

Regardless of these conflicting points of view, the number of college attendees is at its highest in history. Today’s generations are the best-educated to date, with 34% of Millennials being bachelor’s degree holders.

This is a stark contrast to only 24% of their counterparts in the 1980s and only 15% who were college graduates in 1937. In 2013, the surge in American college graduates was deemed a remarkable sign of growth, considering that Americans were non-performing that department for two decades.

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

What’s a College Degree Worth?

Proponents of higher education are unwavering in their support for college. Here are three big reasons why earning a college degree is worth it with measurable results:

College enriches a student’s life experience.

It goes without saying that ample knowledge and expertise in a specific craft or field of study is critical to adapting to and performing in the chosen career.

However, the course lessons that stick to a college student are those that go beyond the walls of a room. The academic challenges in college bring about maturity while also cultivating a sense of independence and responsibility.

College is a good time for students to socialize and expand their network.

College is a social world. It is not limited to individuals inside the dorm or within the dorm floor. College students get to meet people from diverse cultures and backgrounds with interests that are similar or different from theirs.

Ultimately, becoming part of a campus community and creating a bond with different people expose them to a world that is globally interconnected.

College graduates make more money.

Studies reveal that educated employees are increasingly becoming valuable assets. Individuals with college degrees have the advantage as they are more likely to explore more options and land their career of choice. For a college degree holder, a stable money-making career is on the horizon.

Citing research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, emphasizes that holders of college degrees are more likely to get better-paying jobs than those who have minimal or zero college experience.

A survey by the Pew Research Center revealed that college graduates believe their college education was money and time well spent.

Nine out of 10 college graduates in various generations—including Millennials—unanimously agreed that college is worth the investment, including and beyond the financial aspect.

American Parents and Their Kids’ College Endeavors

Given the rising cost of higher education and the $82.9 billion student debt crippling over 44 million people, it is safe to assume that American parents are likely to be uncertain about sending their children to college. Recent research, however, reveals the opposite.

A recent survey indicated that parents of college-bound students are, overall, financially willing and prepared to pay higher education fees and see college as a worthy investment, while other studies show that families are now putting back savings for college first before contributing to their retirement funds, although it’s not recommended.

This generally positive attitude of parents toward college is also verified in a 2023 report by student loan giant Sallie Mae. The results indicated the willingness of undergraduate families to stretch their finances and explore options to send a family member to college.

Seventy-one percent of families surveyed borrowed money to help pay for college in 2023, according to the report. Thirty-five percent of college students, in agreement with their families, turned to scholarships and grants. Nearly a quarter of college students have paid for their education through parental income and savings.

The rest sought student loans, student income, and parent loans. Essentially, parents and students “equally share responsibility for paying college costs,” according to the study.

Quick Tips for Choosing the College to Attend

Now that the value of a college degree is established, the only thing left to do is to create a roadmap that will lead to an exciting college life and a promising future.

Before entering the college realm, be sure to know what you must do. There aren’t enough college freshman tips and college study strategies in the world to cover everything that a student needs to know. Given the pressures and challenges of college life, every student needs to have passion and dedication for their chosen course.

College is a battlefield where only those with persistence and hard work, as well as support from family and loved ones, survive.

Perhaps one of the biggest dilemmas college-bound students face is finding the right university to attend. It is, after all, a decision that will affect their lives in the many years to come. To this end, choosing the ideal college is extremely important. Here are three fundamentals for making that happen:

Senior high school students are often less confident about entering university. There may be a good reason for this because, after all, not all colleges and universities are created equal.

The trick is to carefully take the right steps to pursue the right majors and pick the right one among the many colleges and universities you can choose from.

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