College costs outpacing earning potential

On Dec. 18, my wife and I drove to Ashland, Ohio, for another of our grandchildren (hard to say when he is now 22) college graduations from Ashland University.

We arrived quite early in order to get good seats in the gymnasium where the commencement activities were being held.

I had plenty of time to reflect upon his future in elementary teaching and his training and expenses associated with that training over his last four years with obtaining his bachelor’s degree. I also thought of the others graduating with him and the challenges they would all face in the coming years.

I immediately reflected on my first year of college in 1953 with my $1,770 investment for the year in another Ohio university. If I would have finished, I would have had slightly more than $7,800 in my college expense for the four years.

As it turned out, I would have to delay my fact-finding with college investment until later when I could use the detailed information from the Internet.

I used guardian.com and usnews.com for the following information.

It appears to cost between $24,000 to $96,000 to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in teaching. If I had completed my four-year study, my cost of $7,800 would have been 12.3 times less than his cost.

The average debt for a student loan in Indiana today is $29,222, and many that I have spoken to owe some $50,000 or more with some still in school.

One might quickly assume that inflation has kept income current with higher educational costs; however, those are not the facts. Let’s look at some figures that may well surprise you:

1957: Indiana teacher income first year, approximately $4,500; four-year education expense, about $7,500.

2015: Indiana teacher income first year, approximately $37,500; four-year education expense, about $96,000.

Higher education costs are increasing every year at a much higher rate than that of inflation and are not keeping pace with incomes in most all fields of employment.

It is hard to imagine young couples starting out their lives with marriage and some possible $25,000 to $75,000 of combined student loan debt. If they are typical credit card users, they may well have another $10,000 of debt to manage for monthly payments.

Some other startling facts:

•Unemployment rate for college grads is 5 percent; 38 percent of university grads are working in jobs that require less than a high school education

•6.8 million former students over 50 owe $149 billion in student loans

•2.2 million people 60 and older still owe on student loans.

•Student debt hurts more than just through ones wallet: A Gallup poll recently found that fewer than one in four graduates with more than $50,000 in student debt were thriving physically, to have good sense of purpose and to be involved in their communities.

It is estimated that those graduating in 2015 could have loans of $35,000 on the average. Those with little or no debt enjoyed what they did each day, had a strong sense of purpose and were motivated to achieve their goals. Overall, some 41 percent of graduates said they did so with no debt; another 27 percent had less than $25,000, and 32 percent had some higher amount than $25,000.

I suggest each potential college student look carefully at their future working career to determine the amount of higher education that will be needed. Unfortunately, many employers today are requesting college graduates when I believe it is not really needed. Many times success comes from the desire to succeed more than the knowledge to do so.