I can tell you all about how expensive it is to go to college today, and I will because that’s the point of this blog post. But the bottom line is college is expensive, so when it comes down to it — is it worth it?
How Expensive Is College, Really?
Relatively speaking, I’m pretty well-educated. I went to college right after high school and got myself a Bachelors of Communication in Journalism, which I followed up with a Master of Arts in Intercultural and International Communication (seriously, don’t ask — I have no idea what it means either).
That sounds pretty expensive, and it was. My bachelor’s degree alone racked up more than $30,000 in tuition, textbooks, and other college-related expenses. And at the time, I lived at home, worked a part-time job and had virtually no other expenses save for a phone bill and my gas money.
My master’s degree cost me another $40,000 considering textbooks, tuition, and other college-related expenses. And by the time I took the program I was running myself a little solo household. Rent, utilities, phone, internet, groceries, car payment — you name it, I had it. That meant that there was no way I could be a full-time student — at least not one without a full-time job.
How Do You Pay For College?
I paid for my two degrees very differently. And depending on the situation, some people need to combine both of them or go in a completely different direction. But here’s how I did it:
Out Of Pocket (With Help)
I consider myself very lucky, and while I was a kid, my parents put away money for me to go to college when I got older. Unfortunately, two factors made that money not quite enough to pay for it.
The first factor was my birth date. Now, I’m not sure how this happened, but somehow my birth date ended up being input incorrectly meaning the tiered payment system my parents were set on plus the end date were both wrong. So when it came time to pull out the money, it wasn’t “finished” being paid. Plus, the company charged an “administration fee” to pull out the money early which also didn’t help.
The second factor was that the cost of going to college rose. By a lot. That meant that even had they put away the right amount of money, it still wouldn’t have quite covered my school expenses. All-in-all, I ended up having to cover somewhere around $10,000 to $12,000 myself. So I worked.
The money my parents had put away (thankfully) covered my first year. That meant that I had a whole year to get the money that I needed to get for the second year. I worked as much as I could during the school year, then spent the summers doing higher-paid internships along with my part-time job.
My second time around was not quite as cozy money wise. I really wanted to do my master’s, but I didn’t exactly have an extra $40,000 kicking around. So I went the option of student loans.
While government student loans covered most of my tuition, they didn’t really factor in other expenses like textbooks, computer costs (I ended up having to replace my computer half-way through my first year) and, though my degree was done at a distance, it required a two week residency, of which the costs weren’t covered. So I had to get a student line of credit through the bank.
Student loans are not the ideal situation in my mind, but at the time it was my only real option.
In The End, Is College Worth It?
I often get asked, especially by young adults in their first year of college, whether or not my education has actually been worth it. And I admit that at times that can be a challenge question to ask.
All-in, I spent $70,000 on roughly eight years of college. And I don’t directly use any of it.
Don’t get me wrong, during the start of my career my experience is due solely to my education which helped me get multiple internships and my first few jobs at reputable companies. I’ve had the pleasure of working with micro non-profits, government organizations, politicians and both national and international organizations.
But, then I became a freelance writer, and my education came second to my portfolio.
At the end of the day, though, I would say, yes my education was worth it. Even if I don’t need my degrees to get my clients today, they’ve done wonders for opening doors. The experiences that I use as a base for the majority of my work came as a direct result of my college degrees. And, as my mom always told me, no education is ever a waste of money.
As for whether or not more education is right for you? It depends. What do you want to do?
Do you think college is worth the cost? Share below in the comments!
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Tae started out as a journalist before following the money into the corporate world. But it turns out that the grass isn’t always greener and now you can find her spending most of her time writing about all the things she loves. Namely, money, travel and business with a hefty dose of self-deprecating humor. She is a podcast fanatic, blogging aficionado and loves to find new ways to turn passions into cold hard cash!