The crushing financial burden of higher education is eroding the value of a college education, suggests an online survey conducted by American Consumer Credit Counseling. A little over half of 220 budget-conscious consumers surveyed in the ACCC poll said college was not worth the cost – with close to 70 percent of those respondents reporting total college debt in excess of $25,000.
The tuition and other costs of college continue to escalate for American families. More and more young people are incurring huge debt right from the age of 18 – placing a tremendous burden on them for a large part of their lives.
Of the 111 respondents who believed that college was not worth the cost, 63 percent were aged 18 – 35, and 68 percent incurred $25,000 or more in student debt as a result of their education.
109 respondents – 49.5 percent – found that college was worth it. Only half of those respondents owed more than $25,000. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, the average debt burden for the Class of 2011 was just under $27,000.
When people are unable to start saving in early adulthood because of large student debt payments, it can dramatically alter the course of their lives and impact future financial decisions. Young consumers are now waiting longer to buy homes, get married, have children, and, eventually, retire.
The survey also found that of those who did not feel college was worth it, only 21 percent work in the field that they majored in, compared with 54 percent of those who indicated college was worth the cost.
Student debt is only one part of the problem. The struggling economy has made it especially difficult for graduating students to find employment within their field of education. This erodes the perceived value of higher education, making graduates feel the money spent on college was not worth the overall financial burden.
The results of the ACCC web poll echo the findings of a recent survey commissioned by Northeastern University, in which more than 60 percent of respondents rated the quality of the U.S. higher educational system as either “fair” or “poor.” Most respondents in that survey also said it’s more important for universities to lower tuition costs than it is for them to continue offering amenities like on-campus housing and athletic facilities.
Financial experts are growing increasingly alarmed about the impact that student loan debt will have on future generations of Americans. This year, for the first time, total student loan debt in the United States surpassed $1 trillion.