Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Answer: $59,000.00

Question: How much money do I have to pay back after obtaining my bachelor's degree? (as a sidenote, I love Jeopardy!)

I just got a letter in the mail today with that number on it. Keep in mind, I have obtained grants, bursaries and scholarships, and I work 2 part-time jobs while raising my children and attending school. Still, I feel a little bit nauseous and very scared every time I think about that number. I can't even comprehend that amount of money. That amounts to payments of $650 per month for 10 years! That's almost a mortgage on a small house outside the city. I guess the real question is, would a bachelor's degree earn me $650 per month more than a high school diploma? Maybe this is where I should question my decision to go for a liberal arts degree...

In a recent study, Statistics Canada compared wealth of students with and without a post secondary education (PSE), with and without student loans (4 groups). What they found was that people who did not take out loans fared best- as expected. People with PSE without loans have more wealth than those with loans, as do people without loans who have not completed their PSE. What surprised me is that the study found that students without loans or PSE (so, people with high school diploma or less) have about $10,000 more net wealth than people with loans and a PSE. According to this, university may not be worth it if you cannot get through it debt-free.

The study also found that "Average loan amounts at graduation for those with a bachelor’s degree also rose during this period [1982-1995] by 121% for men and 145% for women." And that "the average benefits of a post-secondary education will not be realized by all graduates." This is one of the many reasons that I am going on to grad school... I do not believe that the cost of my education will be realized without the extra years- however, this is a catch 22 situation because the extra years will cost more money.

There are many other reports on education that are frightning. For example, a student group reported that only 8% of students with loans finish their degree/diploma (I'm going to look for this study at some point, instead of a newspaper reporting it). And the University of Calgary is considering a tuition hike of 47% for some programs.

Sometimes it is hard to think of a way out... if you don't get an education you could be stuck in a low-paid job... if you do get one, you could spend the next 10 years or more struggling to pay it off. But there is a way out. There are many countries that provide inexpensive, even free, post-secondary education, although it is becoming less common every year. I often hear the phrase "invest in your future" pertaining to paying for your education, and I am not entirely opposed to that concept, at least if you are guaranteed a 'return' on that 'investment' (and by that I mean some kind of stipulation- you only have to pay if you earn a certain income maybe), but I think that these costs should be drastically lower than they are right now. I am not ok with $60,000 debt for a bachelor's degree for anybody.

Edited to add: Here is the photo that is linked below by anonymous

1 comment:

  1. http://graphjam.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/funny-graphs-university-education.jpg