Is College Worth It?

A college degree is usually worth the cost —
if you graduate and are able to pay back your debt.

8 reasons to go to college

Statistics generally show that earning a college degree leads to:

College not right for you? Explore your alternatives

A traditional four-year college seems like the default next step for high school graduates, whether or not they have a career in mind. But there are plenty of good jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.

Will a degree pay off?

You can never predict your post-education future, but these steps can help you make the best possible choice.

How to measure earnings vs. debt

Even if you graduate, get a job and start earning income, college may not feel like it's worth it if you’re swimming in more debt than you can afford. Below, you can see the median income by major one year after graduating, alongside the median debt. Use it to help you decide which higher education options are best for you.
The calculation accounts for about 33% of gross income going to federal and state taxes, and 401(k) contributions. It also assumes a 10-year repayment schedule and a 4.99% interest rate, which is the 2022-23 federal student loan interest rate for undergraduate direct loans.
Keep in mind that some colleges are more expensive than others. If the median debt for your major is unaffordable based on median income, that isn’t to say you have to choose another major. Instead, consider all college and funding options available to you and compare the prices of each.

A degree without regrets

As it turns out, there are fewer education-related regrets among those who have earned degrees compared with those who have not. A 2021 survey by the Federal Reserve, "Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021" found:
• The majority of those who did not earn a degree/did not attend college (67%) or who hold an associate degree (61%) said they would like to have completed more education.
• Very few people of any education level said they wish they had less education.
• More than half of those surveyed who went to college said the lifetime financial benefits of their education exceeded the costs.
• The most common regret among those with a bachelor's degree was their field of study (37%).

Compare college options

Explore federal data on college costs, majors and outcomes.