A new survey from Kaplan Test Prep and Money Magazine says many parents doubt if their kid's college education is worth the astronomical investment. In fact, just 1 in 5 parents agree that the cost of a four-year degree is worth "the value it delivers." And 6 in 10 of the 539 parents surveyed are more concerned about how they will pay for that degree than their own retirement planning.
Parents' lackluster endorsement of higher education may reflect their uncertainty about how they are going to afford the ever-increasing tuition. That's easy to understand, given that the average cost to send a child to a state school during the 2015-2016 academic year is $19,548, while one can expect a private institution to cost about $43,921 for the year!
Michael Boothroyd, Kaplan's executive director of college admissions programs, says the hefty price tag for admission is a tough pill for many parents to swallow because they don't often see an immediate return on their investment. His advice for parents: Remember that a college education is a "long-term investment that realizes itself over time."
That's right; just because Johnny graduated and moved back onto the sofa doesn't mean he won't put his degree to use someday! In fact, studies show that people with advanced degrees earn more money than those without; as much as a million dollars more over a lifetime. Consider that a college degree-holder makes about $64,500 per year, while an associate's degree holder earns around $50,000 per year, and someone who stopped studying after high school makes $41,000 per year. Advanced degree-holders are also less likely to be unemployed.
So although this latest survey reveals parents' fears about paying for college, other studies have proven the value of the degree. But I am right there with the parents who worry about affordability. I have three kids, who are all under the age of 7, and we are already saving for their colleges. Oh, and did I mention we're planning to live in our shed during that 12-year time period?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.