Two Sides of College: Value Versus Costs

By: Anneken Tappe · April 22, 2024 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Tuition Tension

Even at its most affordable, attending college in the United States isn’t cheap.

Roughly three-quarters of Americans still consider a college education valuable, according to a survey from Gallup and Lumina Foundation. But the hefty price is proving to be a significant deterrent. The average annual cost of an undergraduate education during the 2021-22 academic year spanned from $10,000 per year for public, two-year institutions to more than $56,000 for private, four-year nonprofit universities, per Gallup.

Costly Choices

The majority (56%) of adults who either stopped attending college or never attended at all point to the cost as a critical reason for not enrolling, according to the survey. Meanwhile, nearly a third (31%) of currently enrolled adults who are considering dropping out cite costs as a factor.

Delays surrounding the revamp of the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms this year are also weighing on new applications, adding more evidence that the overwhelming cost of college is a major factor for many.

But for prospective students, it’s not that simple. While the cost of obtaining a degree can be a barrier to entry, the median annual income of recent college graduates with a Bachelor’s degree is $60,000, compared to $36,000 for those with just a high school diploma, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York .

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