Majority of Americans Think College Costs are Out Of Reach

Study finds opinions differ by gender and race

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An Exclusive Point Taken-Marist Poll finds that while a majority of Americans think college is worth the cost, an even greater percentage believe that college is out of their financial reach.

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The study found that 55% of Americans, including 51% of parents, think college is worth it, and 77% believe a college education is key to future success. When the data is broken down by gender, women are 61%, more likely than men, 49%, to say college is worth the price tag.

Despite the belief in the merits of a college education, 75% think the cost of a college degree is out of reach for most American families, and interestingly, millennials are 30% more likely than their older counterparts to believe the cost of a college education is within their reach.

Sixty-seven percent of non-white respondents polled were more likely than whites, 56%, to report jobs are limited for those without a college degree.

“While there are concerns about the cost, Americans still see the value of a college education,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

When it comes to how much we should actually spend on college, the general rule of thumb for student loans is that you should not have to borrow more than you expect to make as an annual salary for your first job out of school. Go to sites like Salary.com to research salaries.

It’s also important to be clear on costs. The National Center for Education Statistics has a website that can help you calculate costs. CNN Money’s College Cost Calculator is a great resource. There is also an interesting site called CollegeRiskReport.com that a University of Arkansas grad put together to help people figure out if their degree is worth their financial investment.

Also, be sure to put together a realistic budget, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing and food, as well as transportation and personal expenses.

As the study indicates, Americans will go to extremes to cover the cost of a college education, and believe it’s worth the financial burden. Be sure to take on this important investment with a realistic assessment of the costs and a plan to pay them in a way that does not cause financial insecurity in other parts of your life.