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Is College a Good Investment?

According to College Board's 2009 study, "Trends in College Pricing," college tuition has been steadily increasing. At public four-year colleges and universities, tuition and fees rose an average rate of 4.9 percent per year beyond general inflation from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010, even faster than during the previous two decades. With the rising cost of an education, it's easy for would-be college students to forgo hitting the books in order to receive a regular paycheck. But while saying yes to the labor force after senior year may help put more money in the pockets of high school graduates for now, in the long run, college may just be their best investment.

College is a good financial investment. When it comes to completing four more years of education after high school, your efforts will literally pay off. The average college graduate will earn 61 percent more than the average high school graduate over 40 years of working, according to a 2009 study, "Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society," by College Board. And even those who have to go into debt and borrow the full cost of their education will be better off with a diploma in their hand. According to the study, the typical college graduate who enrolled in college at the age of 18 will have earned enough to compensate for borrowing to pay the full tuition at the average public four year institution by the time they are 33. This not only includes interest on student loans, but also the earnings they may have given up during the college years.

College is a good personal investment. When it comes to the quality of life, people who have gone to college tend to experience better lifestyles than those who did not. The study reported that at every age and income level, higher levels of education are correlated with better health. Even those with bachelor's degrees who were considered low-income were more likely than high school graduates at any income level to report that they were in either excellent or very good health. They were also more likely to volunteer, vote in political elections, and be open to differing opinions. Earning a college education also improves the lives of one's children. The study found that the children of college-educated adults are more likely to have higher cognitive skills, as well as be more involved in athletic, religious, and cultural extracurricular activities than other children.

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