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Is college worth the cost?

Jeffrey Apps and Tracy Tutag

As a follow up to last week’s column on college funding, many people wonder if attending college is worth the expense. If you’re facing the costs of sending your children to college, or thinking about going back and getting a degree yourself, you may be wondering if that diploma is worth the time and money. What, exactly, is the return on this very large investment?The benefits of a college degree can be measured in both economic and psychological terms. From a psychological standpoint, there is the benefit of having a greater choice of careers, as well as the probable increase in social skills attained while in college. With a college education, it is more likely that you will have access to a wider variety of work that interests you. Another psychological benefit may be increasing your knowledge of the world. College allows you, or your children, to access new subjects, increases the ability to think through problems and gives training in expressing ideas. In general, attending college may provide skills that will be useful both on and off the job.The financial benefits of attending collegeIn dollars and cents, the benefits of going to college are clear. Bachelor’s degree recipients earn over 60 percent more on average than those with only a high school diploma. Over a lifetime, the gap in earnings potential between a high school diploma and a Bachelor of Arts can exceed $1 million*.College graduates earn more than non-graduates even in the same jobs and college graduates have a lower rate of unemployment. The more education you have, the greater your earning potential is. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook in 2002, the average annual earnings per degree are as follows:– High school diploma – $26, 364– Bachelor’s degree – $43,368– Master’s degree – $51,116– Professional degree -$61,048– Doctoral degree – $63,128If you or your children are looking for careers with a future, here are the 10 fastest growing occupations for graduates with associates, college or advanced degrees*.– Network systems and data communications analysts– Physician assistants– Medical records and health information technicians– Computer software engineers – applications– Computer software engineers -systems software– Physical therapist assistants– Fitness trainers– Database administrators– Veterinary technologists and technicians– Dental hygienistsPlanning to improve the bottom lineYes, college is expensive. But it is generally worth the cost. The best way to assure the benefits of a degree is to begin planning early. Proper college fund planning will potentially allow you to accumulate the most money. Talk to your financial professional today about helping you formulate and implement a college savings plan.*Source: College Board, 2004Jeffrey Apps and Tracy Tutag offer securities and investment advisory services through AXA Advisors, LLC (member NASD, SIPC) 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY and offers annuity and insurance products through an insurance brokerage affiliate, AXA Network, LLC and its subsidiaries. They can be reached locally at 926-0601 or tracy.tutag@axa-advisors.com.


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