The common assumption is that, after four years of hard academic work, college graduates are guaranteed more lucrative jobs than someone who did not attend college.
Indeed, according to some studies, 10 years after graduation, a college degree is worth close to an extra $4,000 a year. After 20 years, graduates can earn $25,000 more than those who without a bachelors degree.
Yet, as the price of college rises, the extra money students earn later in life can seem like less of an incentive. Currently, Boston College costs around $58,500 a year, not including travel expenses or the almost $500 cost for freshman orientation.
Sarah Lawrence, currently the most expensive private college in the United States, costs over $63,000 a year, a more than three percent increase from the previous year. As prices continue to rise year after year, we must ask: When will the increase in earnings after college be negated by the cost of a degree?
According to a recent study by Hamilton Place Strategies, that year is 2086. After 2086, speaking in strictly financial terms, the price tag will no longer be worth the potential future earnings of graduates.
By that year, the firm estimates that tuition for top universities will cost up to $750,000 for four years. Of course, earnings for workers should rise as well, but perhaps not at the same rate as tuition. When future earnings don’t justify the cost, will students still pursue higher education?
While Boston College students may argue that there is more to be gained from a college education than simply more money later than life, this cost analysis offers future students, parents and educators something to think about.