By John Egan
You don’t have to be a math major to grasp the enormity of this figure: $1.2 trillion.
That’s how much student loan debt has been racked up by 40 million Americans, according to a 2008-2014 analysis of US student loans by Experian, one of the country’s major credit bureaus. The average borrower has nearly four student loans adding up to an average of $29,000.
It definitely doesn’t have to be that way, though. Affordable, high-quality options for higher education are available from schools like Western State Colorado University.
Western State Colorado University prides itself on offering more than 70 strong academic programs whose value is unmatched, delivering an excellent return on the investment. Low tuition and fees make Western one of the most affordable colleges in the country.
For the 2015-16 school year, tuition, fees and other costs at Western total $17,908 for an in-state student and $28,912 for an out-of-state student, based on a full-time course load of 15 credits per semester. These expenses are considerably lower than those at many other public colleges and universities in Colorado.
Western State Colorado University provides a private college experience—with an average class size of 17 and total enrollment of 2,400—for the lower cost of a public university.
“Not all students thrive at larger universities, where lecture halls accommodate 500 people and anonymity is often the norm. For many, a lower student-teacher ratio and a more intimate social environment are critical to their success,” says Dr. Greg Salsbury, president of Western.
Of course, earning a college degree is critical to career success.
A 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center shows that college graduates who were born after 1980 and were working full time in 2012 out-earned those without college degrees. According to Pew, workers with at least a bachelor’s degree had annual median earnings of $45,500, compared with $30,000 for people with just some college and $28,000 for people with only a high school diploma.
Also in the Pew survey, 91 percent of US adults—regardless of their generation—said their undergraduate education had paid off and would continue to pay off.
Pew says its survey confirms “what generations of parents have told their children: To get a good job, get a good education.”
The US Department of Education says a college education like the one that a student can gain from Western State Colorado University has never been more important. According to the Department of Education:
- College graduates in the US with a bachelor's degree typically earn 66 percent more than those with only a high school diploma and also are much less likely to face unemployment.
- During their lifetime, the average US worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn about $1 million more than a worker who lacks a college education.
- By 2020, an estimated two-thirds of American jobs will require postsecondary education or training.
“In today’s economy, higher education is no longer a luxury for the privileged few, but a necessity for individual economic opportunity and America’s competitiveness in the global economy,” the Department of Education says. “At a time when jobs can go anywhere in the world, skills and education will determine success, for individuals and for nations. As a result, college education remains the best investment a student can make in his or her future.”
Learn more about tuition and fees at Western.