Students attend college for many reasons: to explore their interests, learn about new subjects, meet new people, and prepare for a career. College is a way to achieve your dreams and goals in life. Today’s college degree is like yesterday’s high school diploma: it provides more options for what you can do in the future. College graduates have more career options, typically have higher salaries, and make more money over their lifetime.

Is college worth it? Even if you can afford college, is it a good idea? No matter how much financial aid you get, college will still require a sacrifice of money, time and effort. Kids who go straight to work after high school have more spending money sooner. Does college give enough bang for the buck? The answer is “yes” for many reasons including money, job insurance and personal growth. In terms of money, college clearly pays. The difference in earnings between college graduates and high school graduates has increased sharply over the past three decades. College graduates earn an average of $1 million more over their careers than high school graduates (see below).

Average Annual Earnings by Education Level

Education Level1 Year of Earnings35 Years of Earnings
Professional Degree$100,000$3,500,000
Doctoral Degree$79,400$2,779,000
Master’s Degree$61,300$2,145,500
Bachelor’s Degree$50,900$1,781,500
Associate’s Degree$40,600$1,421,000
Some College, No Degree$37,100$1,298,500
High School Graduate$31,500$1,102,500
Non High School Graduate$23,400$819,000