College ROI vs. College Debt: How Does Your State Rank? Part 3

The Long Term Perspective on College ROI

When trying to decide whether to go back to college or not, you may find yourself agreeing, in principle, that going back to school, whether by taking online college courses, or enrolling at an online college and university or traditional “bricks and mortar” and earning your degree is the right choice. However, when you begin to look at tuition costs and paying back school debt, it can make one indecisive, and feel that a non-decision by putting off a college education for another year would seem best.

That’s where you’d be wrong. When it comes to college, don’t delay. The sooner you graduate and earn your degree, the sooner you’ll be on track to tip the college ROI equation in your favor. When it comes to ROI for college, time makes all the difference.

In fact, when PayScale was conducting their 30-year ROI calculation on graduates from individual schools, they also looked at 15-year ROI. Here’s something to mull over:

ROI for the schools in the ranking (including the state schools listed above) averaged just $77,751, meaning that 80 percent of the value of a college education isn’t realized until much later in the typical career trajectory, when earnings begin to take off.4

College is not going to get cheaper if you just wait it out. Your life probably won’t get any less busy next year. But you can start earning back your return on investment for college by graduating sooner than later. Yes, if you are like the average college student, you will take on debt to earn your degree. But as the ROI state-by-state comparison above shows, no matter what state you live in and no matter what state school you attend, your investment in your education can have a real, measurable return.

4 Bloomberg BusinessWeek, College ROI: What We Found, 4/7/2011, p2.

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