Being realistic about earning potential after college graduation is an important part of your college application decision.
When you weigh your financial aid packages, ask yourself whether or not you will be able to repay any college loans you take out to pay for the education. Even if the college is prestigious, a high-priced degree may not be the best choice if you are offered a bad financial aid package or have to depend on loans.
Here are some tips to help decide whether your degree will be a good investment:
1. Study various career paths.
Research the jobs that involve your intended major. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious. You might find a career path that you had not even considered. Look at the current job projecions whether or not you can translate your degree into these high-demand jobs.
2. Investigate the earning potential of the career.
Earning potential figures can be easily obtained through the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected earnings charts or at Payscale.com. Be realistic. You won’t be paid at the top of the scale right after graduation. Use the lowest percentage for your figures as a conservative estimate.
3. Learn about loan repayment.
If you are borrowing money to attend college, don’t just assume you will make enough money to pay back those loans. Research repayment amounts (and monthly payments) to determine how much of your salary will go towards student loans.
The best place to begin is at the government website: Federal Student Aid. There you will find a student loan repayment calculator. Here you can enter the amounts of your loans with their interest rates and get an estimate of your loan payments. You can easily enter all your loans: federal student loans, parent loans and private loans. By getting an idea of your repayment amount, you can make a better decision about the earning potential of your degree and whether or not you will be able to make your payments.
4. Consider that life is more than dollar signs.
If you are making five figures and working in a job you detest, the money won’t soothe your misery. Being financially secure is everyone’s goal, but sometimes working at a job you love can be worth its weight in gold. A career as a teacher can be as rewarding as being a doctor. You know yourself better than anyone else. Pursue your passion, but be realistic if you borrow for your education. Acquiring debt that you can’t repay will add stress to you as you pursue your passion.
5. The highest priced education is not always the best.
A high-priced higher education is not always worth the dividend it pays. Investigate the cost of tuition and weigh that against your future earning potential. It is wise to consider community college and trade schools. Compare state college and community college costs with that of private universities. Look for the most generous colleges offering the major you are interested in pursuing.
That degree from a so-called prestigious university might look great on your wall; but is it worth the cost? Be a wise consumer and don’t go into debt on the promise of a five-figure salary. Study the statistics, put some thought into the process and make an informed consumer decision.