Don’t Get Student Loan Sticker Shock — College Pays Off Over Time

You'll thank yourself later.

Struggling to find the meaning behind paying (or borrowing) large sums of money for higher education? The recently released federal report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017 wants to remind you that it’s all worth it.

Given the rising price of American college tuition and student debt, the institution of college and its benefits have come under fire. Higher education is a substantial commitment of both time and money. However, if your career plans align with college, don’t let the sticker shock turn you off. As the report finds, college expenses might hurt at first, but they appear to pay off in the long run.

Click through to see which state has the highest average student loan debt.

GOBankingRates examined the key findings for higher education and found:

The Lifetime Value of Higher Education

Forgoing college and heading straight into a career might seem like the fastest path for earnings, but it’s unlikely a high school graduate’s wages will ever catch up to that of a college graduate. A college graduate earns on average $32.49 an hour. By contrast, a high school graduate earns on average $17.85 an hour, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In other words: the higher the degree, the higher the economic opportunity.

Most People Regret Not Finishing What They Started

Regardless of degree completion status, borrowers still have to repay loans. Those who complete some schooling after high school are more likely to see benefits than those who don’t finish their post-high school education. Likewise, most people value the education they have, yet most desire more. Among those who began some college but didn’t complete it, almost 75 percent would like to have completed more education.

As You Get Older, College Appears to Be More Worth It

Rather than focusing on the median student debt of $17,000, find motivation from the over 80 percent of survey respondents over age 60 who agree that the lifetime financial benefits of a bachelor’s degree exceed the costs. Even though positive responses from the age groups 40 to 49 and 50 to 59 aren’t as high — 69 percent and 75 percent, respectively — both agree the cost is worth it.

Click through to read more about how much you need to make to afford college.