The True Cost of Your Degree

Investing 4 years into anything is quite the commitment, even more so with 6 years and possibly 8.

The length of acquiring degrees through a university comes with the expense of delaying your introduction to the working life. While this is not to say that universities do not give access to a much more vast audience of people, it is also quite the risk to push through college without networking.

Throughout the entirety of their college career as students are told to network with as many colleagues as possible as a way to possibly secure a future position either through a professor or a fellow student. However, where is the line drawn that students are spending too much of their time earning degrees compared to the rise in pay which is not compensated for the additional time spent studying, as well as repaying added student loans.

All arguments aside, if a dream career requires one to have a higher level degree such as a Master’s or Ph.D., then by all means pursue it. However, looking at this situation frugally reveals a slew of determining factors which must be put into place before assessing the problem. Let us examine NJIT’s own tuition fees, cross-reference potential career salaries and an approximation of money which could have been earned while a student was studying.

To begin, the average undergraduate NJIT in-state student who is taking 15 credits will pay $8,449.00 in tuition fees alone. Since the majority of NJIT students commute, we’ll ignore dorming fees ($4,803 on average per semester), and add on a parking pass of $325 (per semester) , in addition to the $1,670 yearly health insurance ($835 per semester).

With this data on average students who dorm are paying $14,922 per semester and students who commute are paying on average $10,444. Against other tuitions of universities across the country, NJIT is quite cost-efficient against the national average of $33,480 yearly so already the thought of getting a degree from NJIT is quite smart.

Congratulations! You have now graduated with your Bachelor’s degree from NJIT and on your way into the workforce, where on average you will earn $50,556 starting salary. While this number may not seem breathtaking, it sure beats the average salary of only having a high school diploma which is $30,500. With this information, we can now deduce a few interesting points.

First, accumulating 4 years of student debt results with $119,376 for students who dorm and $83,552 for commuters; both results not factoring in interest. Secondly, the individual who dove into the working life immediately after high school was able to earn $122,000 within 4 years. Thirdly, comparing both average starting salaries leaves us with a difference of $20,056 in favor to the college graduate.

What does all of this information mean when consolidated into a single point? It means earning a college degree from NJIT will prove to benefit one after approximately 11 to 12 years depending on if you were a commuter or dormer.

None of the previous results take into account interest on loans, additional taxes, state funding, scholarships, grants, promotions at work (which are more likely with a degree), and  much more. This time, without laying out the data, earning a Master’s degree increases wages on average by 20% and earning a Ph.D. increases your wages by an additional 22% on top of having a Master’s.

Factoring in the additional few years of schooling you’ll endure, the result is racing past the high-school diploma earner in approximately 8 years, or even 6.5 with the acquisition of a Master’s or Ph.D upon graduating.

Is it worth it? Of course. Take away from this that each second you spend in school is costing you time in the future. Also, pursuing your higher degree dreams may enable you to retire happily on your ranch house in Bora Bora overlooking the coast sipping on a daiquiri.

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