Chart of the Day: Do Americans Think that College is Worth It?

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The average cost of college in the US is $35,551 per student per year (as of April 2023), including books, supplies, and daily living expenses.

  • The average cost of college has more than doubled in the 21st century, with an annual growth rate of 7.1%.
  • The average in-state student attending a public 4-year institution spends $25,707 for one academic year.
  • The average cost of in-state tuition alone is $9,377; out-of-state tuition averages $27,279.
  • The average private, nonprofit university student spends a total of $54,501 per academic year, $37,641 of it on tuition and fees.
  • Considering student loan interest and loss of income, the ultimate cost of a bachelor’s degree can exceed $500,000.

See below the trendline growth in the cost of college in America and learn more here.

The average cost of in-state tuition and fees varies state-to-state and year to year. The range of difference is over $12,600. The most expensive public schools are in the Northeast, in and around what is traditionally called New England. The average tuition among the ten most expensive states for public universities is $14,583. The average tuition among the states with the most reasonably priced public universities is $6,392. Below is a map that shows the various costs from state to state.

Americans owe $1.75 trillion in student debt – see herehere, and here. Most student loan borrowers owe less than $25,000 on their loans. The median amount of education debt in 2021 among those with any outstanding debt for their own education was between $20,000 and $24,999. One-quarter of student loan borrowers had less than $10,000 in outstanding student debt. See this data in the composite chart below.

And what are the results of these rising costs and debt on Americans? For the first time, over half the people surveyed say a college education isn’t worth the cost. A majority of Americans don’t think a college degree is worth the cost, according to a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll, a new low in confidence in what has long been a hallmark of the American dream.

Skepticism is strongest among people ages 18-34, and people with college degrees are among those whose opinions have soured the most, portending a profound shift for higher education in the years ahead. See this in the chart below and learn more here.

A rather dim view of the financial state of American education. One data point that should be addressed is whether the quality of US education is well-positioned for the increasingly technological world we live in. Check out the video below to see what college students are paying for.

Judging by the answers from these kids, I would ask for my money back. I supposed it’s a bit of a cheap shot to embarrass the youth in these kinds of videos we see all over the internet, but give us your take in the comment section below – is the youth getting smarter with the increasingly costlier education they are receiving today and has it been worth it?

See more Chart of the Day posts

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