College Price Tag = Sticker Shock

I am the parent of soon-to-be high school graduates.  The oldest one at home will graduate from high school this spring, and we have been exploring his college options.  It has been an eye-opening experience.  It seems every college presents one price with the full expectation that financial aid and scholarships will bring the cost down significantly.  The idea of comparing apples to apples in the college cost comparison process is practically impossible.  It feels a bit like buying a car.  You look at the bottom line total, and experience sticker shock.  Then, the kindhearted admissions counselor (aka, car salesperson) starts wheeling and dealing with you, telling you about all the programs that will drop the price.

So when I read this story from Goldman Sachs Banking Investment Firm that says the college price tag is too high and not worth the expense, I started to question if  even spending all this effort to find a college choice for my son is worth the time.

According to, Goldman Sach’s reported:

Students might just be better off skipping college — especially students who attend colleges ranked in the bottom 25 percent. Goldman arrived at this conclusion after calculating that it will take eight years for students who started college in 2010 to start making money from their degree. Class of 2015 graduates will need nine years to break even. If current trends continue, the firm speculates that by 2030, students starting college straight out of high school without financial assistance will not see financial returns on their education investment until age 37.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these grim predictions change some according to the degree sought and the institution at which a student seeks said degree. Graduates of the bottom 25 percent of colleges earn less on average than high school graduates, the report states. Likewise, Goldman Sachs notes that lower paying majors (arts, education, psychology and history, for example) have an even greater chance of negative return on investment. Unlike the starving artist, however, people with degrees related to business, health care and tech are more likely to graduate seeing green.

[See also, “Fewer College Graduates “Strongly Agree” Their Education was Worth What They Paid.”]

So there you have it.  The fears we all have about spending too much on education have been calculated by bankers, and we are right to be fearful.  If the only reason a student is going to college is to eventually be able to earn more money, then college is certainly not worth the price tag for many people.