The competitive job market we are currently experiencing means that a college degree is more important for career success than ever before. Unfortunately, as you probably know, the cost of attending college is also at an all-time high. A recent study reveals that middle-class families are being hit particularly hard. A recent article posted on the Indiana Economic Digest explains:
According to study by the Lumina Foundation and Georgetown Universityâ€™s Center on Education and the Workforce, bad economic conditions have made getting a college degree a higher priority. Workers with high school degrees lost 5.8 million jobs between December 2007 and February 2012, while those with bachelorâ€™s degrees gained 2.2 million.
A study from the University of Wisconsin, meanwhile, shows that middle-class families take on more college debt than any other group. Students from households earning between $40,000 and $99,000 annually graduate with $4,000 to $6,000 more debt than students with lower incomes.
Thomas Ratliff, associate vice president from financial aid at IWU explains â€œWe know that college costs have gone up, but the demands to get someone ready for the workplace have also done so exponentially in recent years,â€ he said. â€œWe offer an extensive amount of both merit-based and financial-need-based gift aid in scholarships and grants to help families hit the target figures and keep college affordable. Weâ€™d prefer that students graduate with no debt, but thatâ€™s not always possible.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of gift aid available at the federal and state levels for the highest financial-need students, and a little bit more merit aid goes to high-income families that have higher education backgrounds with the parents and a lot of support to encourage students to excel. The middle-income families are particularly getting stung.â€
John Lightle, dean of Ivy Techâ€™s Marion campus, said heâ€™s seen more students he would describe as middle-class in the halls over the past couple years, and he encourages students to consider all their options when choosing a college.
â€œFor a lot of students a university is a good fit, but thereâ€™s a group that plan to go and after orientation have a â€˜reality moment,â€™ that this is a lot more expensive that what they can afford,â€ he said. â€œThe amount of debt being accumulated is a concern for all colleges, which is why we all encourage families to search what their options are and make the best decision for them.â€
The bottom line is that todayâ€™s college students and their families are trapped between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes. On one hand, a college degree is all but required for most career pathsâ€”particularly so in todayâ€™s competitive job market. On the other hand, earning a degree means taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt for many students and their families.
But there is a bit of good news. There are proven strategies which can help students and their parents pay considerably less for college. Weâ€™ve written about them in depth in previous articles and blog entriesâ€”and if you would like to learn more about the options that are available to you in order to make college more affordable, give us a call today!