College costs have been skyrocketing for years, and attending has placed a huge financial burden on millions of families. Are the extraordinary costs worth it?
I took 5 years to get my bachelors and certificate to become a teacher. I began college in Fall 2004. It took me 3 years to finish community college because I didn’t take classes in the summer and because I chose to extend my college by one year. I needed a lab science credit and the only way I’d be able to do that was to quit my job. I chose to work instead and keep saving money. Community college cost me about $11,000. By 2006, I had gotten a raise from $7.55 to $11.16 an hour. I was able to fully pay cash for community college. When I transferred for my bachelors in 2007, I paid $14,000 more to complete my degree. I graduated in June of 2009. The market wasn’t super hot for teachers then so I actually stayed at my $11.16 an hour job rather than quitting it to sub. In March of 2010, I accepted a long term sub job. I was paid $181 per day and I still worked 40 hours a week at my other job. If I’d had student loans, they would’ve been paid off then. I started teaching full time in the fall of 2010 and have been teaching ever since. I completed my masters a couple of years ago and have paid off those loans already. It was only about $15,000 or so.
So where am I today? I make about $90,000 a year by working around 1400 hours per year. The hourly rate isn’t bad when you think about it that way. In 6 years, I’ll max out on the salary schedule at around $105,000. If nothing catastrophic happens in my life, I’ll retire in my mid-60s with a $2-3 million nest egg invested plus a pension of $3,500 a month and social security of whatever that’ll be worth. The job I did in college way back in 2004 has a tiny pension as well. $85 per month for something I did from 18-23 isn’t bad. Was college worth it for me? Absolutely. Who’d think that an elementary schoolteacher would end up as a multimillionaire? Thanks to Brian and Bo, my wife and I started our annual net worth statement. Last year, we were $246,000. Next year, it’s easily looking like we’ll be around $325,000 because our house appreciated nicely. College is worth it, but you gotta do it right.
If you are truly considering all the options, there is also the military. There is tuition assistance while serving and GI Bill to use after (or even to pass on to spouse and/ or children in some circumstances). There is paid training (to include many skills related to the top 10 paying jobs not requiring degrees- air traffic controller and pilot quickly come to mind. As a note, becoming a commercial pilot could easily cost as much as a college degree!) Additionally there are service academies and ROTC scholarship that assist in attaining a degree prior to starting a military career. It's certainly not the right choice for many (most?) but it is a valid choice.
Thanks Daniel! Printing and saving this one in my son's education file for ten years from now when we start the college conversation.
Loved the article thank you!! I would like to learn more about bonds (municipal and i-bonds)
Fantastic article, Daniel! In a follow up article, could you expand on the alternatives to college by sharing how people (maybe Abound clients) have been successful without a college degree?