Parents and students rate the cost of a 4-year degree compared to technical programs

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(WXYZ) – If you’re the parent of a high school student wondering if a four-year degree is worth it, you’re not alone.

Even on the heels of President Joe Biden’s announcement of a student loan forgiveness, many people are in sticker shock as they ponder the cost of college for their children, and many will say that there are high-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.

Amy Wilczynski, a mother of two from Clinton Township, toured colleges with her daughter, Molly.

“We’ve been aware of that for a long time because we knew that, you know, our daughter was college bound and wanted a traditional four-year college experience. And so, you know, we saved,” Wilczynski said. .

She graduated from Oakland University. She met her husband there and obtained a degree in communication and a master’s degree in English. She said for her, college for 100% was worth it.

Shawn Orebaugh, a father of three from Chesterfield Township, is a welder-fabricator with 25 years of experience. He fell in love with the field in high school and earned welding certifications instead of a four-year degree.

I think for me it’s been great because I still really appreciate it,” Orebaugh said.

Her eldest son, Keegan, has just finished a summer job welding, and Orebaugh said demand for workers is high.

Preston Cooper, senior researcher at the Foundation for Research in Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), said students are paying almost double what they were paying 20 years ago.

“We find that the average student debt for people who get a bachelor’s degree will be around $30,000,” Cooper said.

FREOPP recently analyzed 30,000 licensing programs across the United States to calculate ROI.

“It really depends not only on how much you borrow, but also how much your degree is worth and how much that degree is worth to give you the paycheck to pay off your debts,” Cooper said.

The main results:

  • For students who graduate on time, the median bachelor’s degree has a net ROI of $306,000
  • More than 1/4 of programs have a negative return on investment
  • 4/5 of engineering programs have a return on investment greater than $500,000, but the same is true for only 1% of psychology programs.

“You have to be aware that in most cases the performance of these programs won’t be too good,” he said.

Cooper also reminded people to do their homework, research and compare colleges, fields of study, and links to apprenticeships and other careers that don’t require a degree.

According to Cooper, the highest-paying degree programs are typically computer science, engineering, economics, business, and nursing.

He said the highest-paying non-degree programs include welding, metalworking, electrical transmission installation, elevator repair, radiology technician and licensed practical nurse.

Conclusion: If you’re wondering if college is worth it, ask yourself how you can make college worth it.


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