American colleges could be considered some of the best in the world. In fact, according to Times Higher Education, the United States has18 of the top 25 universities worldwide. These top universities do stand head and shoulders above lesser institutions and you certainly can't compare Harvard or Princeton with a local community college.
At a top-level American college, the fees of attending coupled with costs associated with living easily add up to around $60,000 every year. Of course, it's possible to study at a lesser college for less, but the education and opportunities may not be the same. Even if you don't take into account any of the alumni that may help a fellow graduate get ahead in life, the average starting salary of a Harvard graduate exceeds those that leave a state or community college.
It's no wonder then that many students are getting themselves in debt to go to college. Currently, the national student debt is over $1.4 trillion!
The average amount borrowed by a student in the United States is a shade over $17,000. However, when you factor in that there are vast discrepancies in colleges and fees, a closer look reveals that top-tier college students could have a much larger burden to pay off, and that has to be balanced with the greater opportunities and higher salaries. Of course, some people may be privileged enough to graduate debt free.
If you're looking at going to college or sending your son or daughter to an institute of higher learning, then perhaps working out what they want to do or achieve in life before sending them off to Harvard or Princeton is the best plan. For many, a state university will more than suffice. It's about how much return on the investment you believe you can get.
Of course, an argument could be made for the fact that the finest university can broaden the mind, and the best education could be priceless. Talk to your investment advisor and see if you can create a college savings plan to lessen the burden.
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