7 reasons to go to college

You may make very close friends while you’re attending college. In college, you get to befriend people from all over the US and even other countries. A big part of the college experience is having the opportunity to learn from and interact with people from diverse backgrounds.

7 reasons to go to college

Wide view of college campus.

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How big a problem is student loan debt?


Student loan debt exceeded 800.2 trillion as of 2013, the second largest type of household debt after home mortgages.

And yet, according to Beth Akers and Matt Chingos, “Our analysis of more than two decades of data on the financial well-being of American households suggests that the reality of student loans may not be as dire as many commentators fear.” Akers and Chingos analyzed a variety of factors that mitigate conclusions of a “crisis,” including: higher average debt levels of borrowers with graduate as opposed to bachelor’s degrees; average lifetime incomes of college-educated Americans are keeping pace with debt loads; and the monthly payment burden is about the same or a little less than it has been.

“These data indicate that typical borrowers are no worse off now than they were a generation ago, and also suggest that the borrowers struggling with high debt loads frequently featured in media coverage may not be part of a new or growing phenomenon,” they conclude.

The Hamilton Project has also explored innovative policy proposals for higher education financing. These include: reforming federal lending and financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant; expanding the use of “net-price calculators” to provide prospective students with a better estimate of the real cost of attending college; and a new system for federal lending that allows repayment schedules to rise and fall with a borrower’s income.

Akers has also called attention to “the plight of recent college grads” who are facing lower earnings, or even unemployment, at the beginnings of their careers but have immediate debt burdens to contend with. “It’s important,” Akers says, “to allow graduates to repay their debts during the times in their careers when they are reaping the economic benefits of their degrees.”

Isabel Sawhill says there are three ways to make college more affordable: government or philanthropy pick up more of the cost; borrow the money; improve the productivity of the sector “so that students learn as much (or more) but at a lower (or the same) cost.

Akers explains how Income Share Agreements are another solution to finance higher education. ISAs “allow students to raise funds to pay for their degrees by selling ‘shares’ in their future earnings,” she explains.

Conclusion: Should You Go to College or Not?

There’s no denying that college offers many financial, professional, and personal benefits. Numerous studies have shown that college graduates have far better financial and job prospects than those who don’t attend college. What’s more, few people regret going to college despite the tremendous amount of student debt and the less-than-ideal economy.

If you’re worried about the cost of attendance, make sure you know about financial aid and how to limit your debt when you graduate. College is an investment that pays off for the vast majority of people who graduate.

Admittedly, some people don’t need college to achieve their personal or professional goals. While you can of course be successful without a college degree, college graduates tend to fare better. If you’re considering college, make the decision that will benefit you the most now and in the future.

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Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.

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